9 of the best Super Bowl ads in 2021: from John Travolta dancing to Matthew McConaughey eating crisps

Plenty of stars make appearances in this year's crop of commercials for the likes of Amazon, Uber Eats and Doritos

John Travolta stars alongside his daughter in an advert for Scotts Miracle-Gro. YouTube
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In the same way Christmas adverts create plenty of buzz each year in the UK, making the best Super Bowl commercial has become a bona fide sport in the US.

The annual championship game of the National Football League, which takes place this Sunday, is the most-watched television event of the year in the States, and so gives brands the chance to reach a vast audience – as long as they can afford the $5.5 million for a 30-second spot, that is.

While some notable brands, namely Budweiser and Coca-Cola, have decided to sit out this year, other first-time advertisers have joined in, particularly those brands that became even more relevant during the coronavirus pandemic and an era of social-distancing.

Here, we take a look at some of the most noteworthy ads that will air during the Super Bowl LV in 2021, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers head off against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Frito-Lay

Super Bowl legends of yesteryear make an appearance in this multi-brand ad, which features Doritos, Cheetos, Tostitos and Lay's.

Narrated by Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, it presents a riff on A Visit From St Nicholas, refashioning it as 'Twas the Night Before Super Bowl.

It stars Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Troy Aikman, Terry Bradshaw, Jerome Bettis and Deion Sanders, who are all so excited about the big game they're up late at night snacking on their favourite chips (or crisps).

Scotts Miracle-Gro

What do John Travolta and a company that manufactures and sells consumer lawn, garden and pest control products have in common? This ad.

The Grease star is seen showing off his TikTok-worthy dance moves alongside his daughter, Ella, in an all-star commercial, the brand's first Super Bowl instalment.

The spot features numerous ways many of us have been enjoying lockdown in our garden throughout the pandemic. The message is to "keep growing".

It also stars Martha Stewart, comedian Matt Braunger, The Office's Leslie David Baker, Nascar driver Kyle Busch, Rocky actor Carl Weathers and fitness instructor Emma Lovewell.

As Ella teaches her dad how to work her phone camera, Baker says: "Hey Travoltas, don't be tikety-toking on my grass!"

Squarespace

There is no doubt the American website provider is one of those that financially benefitted from the pandemic. Perhaps that's how it's nabbed a spot on the Super Bowl ad slate.

The advertisement features a reworked version of Dolly Parton's 9 to 5: "Working 5 to 9, you've got passion and a vision / Cuz it's hustlin' time, whole new way to make a livin' / Gonna change your life, do something that gives it meaning / With a website that is worthy of your dreaming."

Clock-watching office workers start dancing after hours as it's time to hustle on their side gigs, and it features a bush shaped like a squirrel, too.

Amazon

In an ad that's been viewed almost six million times since it was released on Tuesday, February 2, Alexa becomes human, in the form of Michael B Jordan.

The commercial asks: "What would be the ideal body for Alexa?" Well, the answer to that is the star of Black Panther.

"Who knew Alexa had abs?" reads the caption on YouTube.

It's a cheeky one.

Doritos

Snack companies are certainly vying for the audience's attention this year. In a fairly bizarre but fun commercial, Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey appears as a 2D, flattened version of himself, who gets sucked up by a robot vacuum cleaner, blown away in the wind and bowled over by a football.

"Lately, I just haven't been feeling quite like myself," he muses in the voice-over. "Life used to feel fuller. Some days are harder than others. It's like I used to be on solid ground. There's gotta be a way to get back."

And there is: by eating Doritos 3D crisps and consequently getting stuck in a vending machine.

Logitech

The computer manufacturer, which reported a big jump in sales during the pandemic, has been able to afford its first Super Bowl ad, and its an "ode to creators".

The one-minute "Defy Logic" commercial is led by musician Lil Nas X, who is shown writing and recording a song, alongside a bunch of other talents, from visual artists to gender activists, all using their nifty Logitech products in creative ways.

"We stand in defiance," says the Old Town Road star. "We're the makers, we're the groundbreakers, we're the creators. The streamers, the dreamers. We defy expectations."

Uber Eats

Uber Eats revealed a teaser of its Wayne's World ad ahead of the game, featuring Mike Myers and Dana Carvey, who reprise their roles as Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar from the Saturday Night Live sketch series and the 1992 hit film.

"2020 was a great year," says Myers, who easily slips back into character. "Not!" the pair taunt in sync.

"We just wanted to say we'll see you soon for the ... game," continues Myers / Campbell, who goes on to explain that for legal reasons they can't actually say the world Super Bowl, instead jokingly referring to it as the "big bowl" and the "gigantic bowl".

Tide

Vying for top place in the oddest ad awards is this one from Tide – and we can't decide whether it's purely strange or utterly brilliant. It features Seinfeld star Jason Alexander's face on a hoodie, which looks deceptively clean. That's before a mum and son remember all the ways it's been dirtied up.

"Believe it or not, there’s a whole world of hurt … and dirt ... behind those eyes," reads the caption on YouTube.

All this to raise awareness of its new Tide Hygienic Clean Heavy Duty 10X Power Pods that promise to remove "both visible and invisible dirt from your garments".

Alexander himself makes a cameo, too, asking the young boy to give him back his face.

Anheuser-Busch

The parent company of Budweiser has said in a statement that, for the first time in 37 years, it would not be putting out an ad for the brand during the Super Bowl, so it can instead put the money it would have used towards raising awareness of Covid-19 vaccines.

It has still put something out, however; a commercial called Bigger Picture. It's a corporate one that takes a look at the company's community work and economic recovery efforts.

"The thing about America, is we can do anything," it starts. It goes on to feature scenes of all the ways people have been socially distancing, such as singing Lean On Me out of their windows while staying at home in their apartment buildings. There are Black Lives Matter moments, people dancing in their face masks, and then footage of others getting vaccinated.

Frankly, in the current climate, it's a bit of a heart-warmer.

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