As America gears up for a Super Bowl unlike any in history, many brands have already released the ads they’ll run during the big game on Sunday. Though many spots exist in a parallel existence free of COVID-19, some meet our moment more directly. Here are a few of our favorites, including one that won’t run on Sunday. (You’ll understand what we mean in a minute.)
1. Indeed, "The Rising"
Indeed doesn’t mention COVID-19 directly, but it doesn’t have to—the images of Americans from all walks of life searching for jobs create a very human sense of camaraderie and even optimism about the road ahead.
2. GM, “No Way, Norway”
In this funny ad, Will Ferrell is very upset to learn that Norway is creating more electric vehicles per capita than America, and in a very Will Ferrell manner, he recruits Kenan Thompson and Awkwafina to help him do something about it. By framing environmental responsibility as a competition Will Ferrell fans should want to win—by using humor rather than preachiness—GM just might convert a few Super Bowl fans.
3. M&Ms, "Come Together"
Though this classic-feeling M&M spot maintains a sunny silliness that feels pre-COVID (no one is wearing a mask, even on an airplane), the concept involves people gifting each other bags of M&Ms as a modern way to apologize for things like mansplaining, hosting gender-reveal parties and calling a woman Karen. Her name is actually Karen, so she gets a second bag.
4. Toyota, “Upstream”
As a sponsor of the Paralympics, Toyota unveiled an emotional 60-second spot that’s essentially a biography of swimmer Jessica Long, who was adopted from Siberia with a rare condition that required her legs to be amputated. She went on to become the second-most decorated Paralympian in America.
5. Budweiser, “Bigger Picture”
For the first time in 37 years, Budweiser won’t air a TV ad during the game. Instead, they have reallocated those media dollars to support vaccine-education efforts including the Ad Council’s unprecedented initiative. This video, released in January, explains why, with resonant images of mask wearing, empty stadiums, social distancing, Black Lives Matter support and medical professionals getting vaccinated—all to powerful effect.