Super Bowl LV was unlike any Super Bowl we’ve ever had. The stands were filled with 30,000 cardboard cutouts, attendance was down to 25,000 fans instead of the typical 80,000+, and time was spent honoring frontline workers and essential employees. It felt like the only thing that hadn’t changed was Tom Brady claiming yet another Super Bowl championship ring. The over-the-top fanfare we’ve come to expect from Super Bowl ads was all but absent.
2020 completely changed the way the world works. The COVID-19 pandemic, the political unrest, and the attention on corporate responsibility and racial injustice have caused a massive shift in how we live, work, and play. CBS Sports chairman and Super Bowl executive producer Sean McManus shared that a respectful tone was a defining feature this year. That tone carried over to this year’s commercials. Last year many of the Super Bowl ads were simply amusing and entertaining. This year, many more commercials featured people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals, providing representation to marginalized groups, and focused on diversity, inclusion, and sustainability.
There were, of course, the entertaining and amusing commercials, but many of the Super Bowl ads this year shared messages of importance. There was a bigger focus on supporting small businesses, working together to improve the future, fighting back against broken systems, and being more aware of food and energy waste. Here are five Super Bowl ads with a conscience.
NFL: Committing To End Systemic Racism
While it does feel like “too little, too late” after what Colin Kaepernick experienced in 2016 and the racist names of some football teams, the NFL has committed to donating $250 million over the next 10 years to combat systemic racism. Racism has been largely downplayed in professional sports for far too long. It’s a welcome change to see a major sports league acknowledge systemic racism on a large scale, even if it does feel like it’s way overdue.
Chipotle: Supply Chain Awareness
The Chipotle commercial begins with a boy speculating on how a burrito could change the world. Drawing attention to our food supply chains, Chipotle brings awareness to something that many people overlook: how exactly our food gets to us. The commercial was inspired by the recipients of the 2020 Chipotle & National Young Farmers Coalition Seed Grant.
Cabela’s: Get Back To Nature
Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shops, and Tracker Boats & ATVs are all extremely popular outdoor hobby stores, so it makes sense that their commercial’s focus would be on nature. The commercial (while featuring the “in these trying times” phrase) illustrates how we’ve all been cooped up due to the pandemic and the importance of being in nature once in a while. It further goes on to show friends and families of all backgrounds enjoying time together pursuing hobbies. The tagline at the end says, “Let’s get back to nature. We’re all one family in the great outdoors.”
Jeep: Reunited States of America
The Jeep commercial struck a chord with many people and is quickly becoming one of the most shared ads from the Super Bowl. Bruce Springsteen provides narration about a chapel in Lebanon, Kansas, that is the direct center of the lower 48 states. The commercial discusses meeting in the middle, with context and nuance focusing on political unrest. After the last four years and the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6th, the country has been fractured along political lines. Jeep’s commercial explores how we may not always agree on things, but we should respect one another regardless.
Reddit: The 5-Second Ad
Reddit has always been a very popular internet platform, but it has exploded into mainstream news due to the /r/wallstreetbets board. The GameStop stock event showed that if enough people come together, they can make major changes to the world. The end of the advertisement states “Powerful things happen when people rally around something they really care about.”