Bruce Springsteen and Babies Star in Pandemic-Year Super Bowl Ads

Other ads reached back to a time before protective face masks and political rancor. Cadillac invoked the 1990 Tim Burton film “Edward Scissorhands” with Timothée Chalamet in the role of Edgar, the son of the titular character. His mother is played by a star of the original film, Winona Ryder, the Gen X avatar who made a comeback in Netflix’s “Stranger Things.”

“It Wasn’t Me,” the 2000 earworm from the rapper Shaggy, was featured in a Cheetos commercial with Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis, the stars of “That 70s Show,” and Shaggy himself. For Uber Eats, Mike Myers and Dana Carvey reprised their “Wayne’s World” roles from their “Saturday Night Live” sketches and movies from an era when slackers were all the cultural rage.

Michelob Ultra, in an ad for its organic seltzer, assembled a cast of look-alikes for celebrity fixtures including Serena Williams, Sylvester Stallone and Don Cheadle (until the real Don Cheadles meets his doppelgänger on a yacht). Bud Light reunited stars from past Super Bowl commercials, including the performers Post Malone and Cedric the Entertainer.

“As we’ve all gone through the pandemic, nostalgia has broken through as something that really gives people a calming effect, a good feeling,” said Andy Goeler, the vice president of marketing for Bud Light.

Pandemic filming constraints led many companies to rely on stock footage, voice-overs and remote filming. Those hurdles were largely hidden from view, with many ad makers managing to include location changes and special effects, said Margaret Johnson, the chief creative officer at the ad agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, which worked on the 2021 Super Bowl commercials from Cheetos, Doritos and others.

Filming constraints meant there were few big crowd scenes, usually a staple of the extravagant ads shown during the big game. In place of the cast-of-thousands approach, some companies were ambitious in making novel use of remote shoots.

Huggies, the diaper company, was scheduled to broadcast a commercial in the second quarter that included scenes shot on Sunday. The ad featured infants born since midnight on Super Bowl Sunday itself.

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