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Hello Super Bowl junkies,

I’m Jeanine Poggi, Ad Age’s senior editor, kicking-off our countdown to Super Bowl LV. In the weeks leading up to the game, which will, as of now, air on CBS on Feb. 7, Ad Age will bring you breaking news, analysis and first looks at the high-stakes, Big-Game commercials—all in our Super Bowl Alerts newsletter. Sign up right here to get them in your email. 

Inclusivity on the big stage

Culture rather than casting will be a key element in how Super Bowl LV advertisers will be judged on their efforts to be more inclusive in their commercials. Amid the renewed social justice movement sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers last spring, Super Bowl 2021 will be closely watched for how well brands embrace inclusivity and push for accurate representation.

This doesn’t mean marketers must lean into social justice messaging in order to honor the movement. Marketers will be judged in 2021 by how they are “prioritizing the use of cultural insights in the content in order to connect with consumers at the heart, thus maximizing corporate growth,” says Aaron Walton, CEO and founder of the agency Walton Isaacson, whose Super Bowl experience has included 2018's "Black Panther"-themed spot for Lexus.

Here’s a look at some of the biggest Super Bowl hits and misses and what the industry can learn from them to do better.

It’s another Tide ad

Tide will return to the Super Bowl for the fourth time in five years with a commercial that sort of stars Jason Alexander. The “Seinfeld” star appears as a computer-generated image on a hoodie that has been pretty dramatically soiled.

The Procter & Gamble Co. brand for the second straight year appears to be the sole laundry detergent brand in the game after Henkel’s Persil opted out following 2019, the only year in the past five Tide hasn’t appeared, Ad Age’s Jack Neff reports.

To keep track of all the advertisers running national spots in the game, bookmark Ad Age’s regularly updated Super Bowl ad chart.  


Lots of lemons

Bud Light flashes forward to “future time” to a group of people at a party reminiscing about the hardships the pandemic brought us, from do-it-yourself haircuts to busted wedding plans. The commercial plugs the new hard seltzer lemonade flavor by showing lemons falling from the sky as a symbol of all the “lemons” 2020 brought us, Ad Age’s E.J. Schultz writes. How do we get to future time?


More stacking  

Pringles' latest Super Bowl spot suggests that flavor stacking—the act of stacking different flavors of Pringles together—is so engaging that people might ignore a lunar pod’s return from space, Ad Age’s Jessica Wohl writes. People in a NASA-like mission control room don't notice two astronauts stranded at sea because they are, you guessed it, stacking Pringles. Watch the spot here.

And you can watch all the ads released so far, including those from Michelob Ultra, Chipotle, Mercari and Vroom here.  

Another teaser

Doritos released its third teaser for its Super Bowl ad on Wednesday. In this one, Matthew McConaughey is off screen, giving commentary to the looks he’s getting about his #FlatMatthew appearance from a dog, a guy about to toss a football (nod to the Super Bowl?) and a barista, Wohl writes. The spot promotes Doritos 3D Crunch, an updated take on Doritos 3D, which, fun fact, became popular thanks to the “Laundromat” 1998 Super Bowl spot featuring Ali Landry (and Sean Hayes).

Re-watch that ad and more in Ad Age’s extensive Super Bowl ad archive


Pepsi's sort of Super Bowl ad 

PepsiCo will plug its Rockstar energy drink with a pre-game ad that will run in the final ad break before kickoff. While cheaper than in-game ads, this commercial pod has been home to some fairly high-profile spots over the years, Schultz writes. In 2015, Chevy got plenty of attention with a pre-game commercial that duped viewers into thinking they lost cable service with an ad that simply blacked out TV screens. Rockstar won’t go to that kind of extreme, but his hoping to gain notice with an ad featuring rapper Lil Baby, as well as first responders, medical professionals, entrepreneurs and others. See the teaser here. (yes, even pre-game ads get teasers.) Pepsi’s in-game lineup includes Mtn Dew, Cheetos and Doritos.


For more on this year's Super Bowl ad outlook, check out our latest edition of the "Marketer's Brief" podcast. Subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, check us out on Spotify and hear us on Stitcher. This is our RSS feed. Tell a friend!

Join Michelob Ultra, Kimberly-Clark, M&M’s among other Super Bowl advertisers and creatives on Feb. 2 for a look at how brands are navigating the pandemic and addressing diversity in their ads for the 2021 game. Register for the event here