The Super Bowl of Celebrity Cameos: A Recap

One of the best things about the Super Bowl is that it has something for everybody: competition, music, copious amounts of food and lots of advertisers jockeying for your attention in ever-increasingly creative ways. And while living in the age of the Internet means the commercial reveals aren’t quite as dramatic as in years past, it’s still fun to be in a room full of people who yell “SHUT UP!” when the show stops and the ads come on.

This year, as in previous years, the creative attempts ran the gamut from strange (Skittles) to sentimental (Budweiser), but one trend stood out: celebrity cameos. These are certainly not new to Super Bowl advertising, but this year the celebrities involved consistently turned in unique and hilarious performances. Here are a few favorites.


Touchdown Celebrations to Come – NFL

Is it a bit self-indulgent to advertise yourself during your most-watched telecast of the year? Perhaps. But the NFL managed to avoid criticism by devising a delightful “Dirty Dancing” tribute featuring Eli Manning and Odell Beckham, Jr. The concept itself isn’t particularly groundbreaking, but the two athletes are so earnest – especially when it comes to the famous lift – that you can’t help but smile.

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Doritos Blaze vs. Mountain Dew Ice

Peter Dinklage’s presence in a reference to “fire vs. ice” cannot be an accident, but the addition of Morgan Freeman spitting Missy Elliott puts this one over the top. Both actors committed to the part fully, and the result is a unique and enjoyable study in contrasts – almost good enough to get me to consider drinking Mountain Dew. Almost.


“Crocodile Dundee” – Tourism Australia

While the most buzzed-about “fake” ad this year has been the Tide campaign featuring David Harbour, this spoof movie trailer featuring Danny McBride and basically every Australian actor you can think of also deserves some attention. Anecdotally, it seems to have fooled everyone into thinking Hollywood was rebooting the “Crocodile Dundee” franchise, which speaks both to the high quality of the ad as well as our complete lack of faith in Hollywood’s ability to produce anything original. And at the end, you were left laughing at its cleverness, and – admit it – you were thinking you would actually watch this movie.


The Perfect Fit – Michelob Ultra

I had to scan through multiple “best ads” lists to find this one, which I think is a bit of a bummer because it’s thoroughly enjoyable. Despite his new action star status, Chris Pratt has no problem returning to his roots of “lovable goof” in this spot about an unfortunate misunderstanding of his role in a Michelob Ultra commercial. The ad doesn’t focus much on the actual beer, but it gets quite a number of name drops in, and Super Bowl ads tend to be more focused on being wacky anyway. It’s definitely worth a watch.


All Night Long – TD Ameritrade

As a sucker for puns and wordplay, I may be biased, but this TD Ameritrade ad featuring Lionel Richie was cute and well-done. As advertisers, we are always trying to create the perfect connection between brands and pop culture, so watching the TD Ameritrade employees struggle with Richie over saying those three magic words was quite entertaining. While many brands take the “go big or go home” approach to their 30-second spots, TD Ameritrade proves that all you need is a good, simple concept to pull it off.

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Lisa Crawford
Lisa began her career as a China analyst in Washington, D.C., before moving to Phoenix to attend the Thunderbird School of Global Management. Since then, she has gained experience in account service, project management, branding, media placement and campaign strategy. Her clients have ranged from resorts to transportation companies and nonprofit organizations, as well as both B2C and B2B companies. She holds a dual B.A. in international affairs and Asian studies from George Washington University, as well as a master’s degree in international marketing from Thunderbird.

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