Best Super Bowl 2020 commercials: Bill Murray, Sam Elliott and Lil Nas X score

Plus, Mr. Peanut dies so Baby Nut can be born, and Rick and Morty get in a pickle with Pringles.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Expertise Breaking news, entertainment, lifestyle, travel, food, shopping and deals, product reviews, money and finance, video games, pets, history, books, technology history, generational studies. Credentials
  • Co-author of two Gen X pop-culture encyclopedia for Penguin Books. Won "Headline Writer of the Year"​ award for 2017, 2014 and 2013 from the American Copy Editors Society. Won first place in headline writing from the 2013 Society for Features Journalism.
Gael Cooper
12 min read

Super Bowl LIV is in the books. The Kansas City Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers 31-20 in the big game on Feb. 2 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. But some viewers tuned in mostly for the spectacle, including Shakira and J.Lo rocking the halftime show and the famed Super Bowl commercials, which are often more like mini-movies than standard ads.

There were dozens of ads, from political pleas to witty mini-movies. Here I rank my five favorites, and offer up summaries and videos of many of the rest of them. Don Drapers of the world, take a breath. Your big day is over.

1. Jeep: Bill Murray relives Groundhog Day

The Super Bowl aired on Groundhog Day, so it was fitting that Bill Murray, who starred in the 1993 comedy of the same name, returns to that time-looping movie in an ad. Murray finds that reliving the same day over and over isn't quite so bad when you have a little groundhog pal (love his teeny bike helmet) and a Jeep Gladiator pickup truck. Like the movie, I could watch this ad over and over again.

2. WeatherTech: Scout 

Bill Murray may have the best ad of the game, but two touching ads have to tie for second place. In the first, David MacNeil, founder and CEO of car-accessories company WeatherTech, thanks the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine for saving his golden retriever, Scout, from cancer, and encouraging donations. Let's hope Super Bowl viewers are generous, and the donations pile up like Milk-Bones. Who's a good boy?

2. Google: Loretta (tied with WeatherTech)

Like the WeatherTech ad, this 90-second ad from Google gets serious. But Scout has a happy ending, whereas this one is a real tear-jerker. In it, an older man uses Google to help him remember facts about his presumably deceased wife. The man is the 85-year-old grandfather of a Google employee, and the company says they used facts from his real life to create the commercial. I'm not crying, you're crying. 

Note, however, that some viewers are skeptical of the companies behind the more touching commercials. A tweet that was retweeted more than 47,000 times at press time said, "u can tell how evil a company is by how touching their super bowl ad attempts to be."

3. Doritos: Old Town Road

Old Town Road was an enormous smash hit for rapper Lil Nas X in 2019, and Doritos played off its popular Cool Ranch flavor to make the connection between Cool Ranch and the western-themed song. Actor Sam Elliott and Lil Nas X get into a western danceoff, but Sam's horse won't play. The danceoff is a blast, but I also loved the short previews revealed before the ad. In one, Elliott recites the song's lyrics in his honeyed, perfect-for-westerns voice. I'd watch a whole movie based on him saying, "I been in the valley."

4. Pringles: Rick and Morty

As a Rick and Morty fan pining away for new episodes, of course this commercial had to rank high. Here's some background: The Pickle Rick episode of Adult Swim's Rick and Morty featured mad scientist Rick turning himself into a pickle. It was kind of a big deal. Peter Dinklage of Game of Thrones even recorded an audio commentary for the episode, and there's a classic blooper

It was later announced that Pringles is making Pickle Rick-flavored Pringles, and then the chip company released its full Rick and Morty-themed Super Bowl commercial. The ad focuses on the idea of stacking different flavored Pringles for different flavor sensations, and leave it to mad scientist grandpa Rick to discover the family is trapped in a Pringles commercial. Kudos to Pringles for letting the ad feel like it really could be part of an episode, even down to Summer and Rick sneering about how Pringles probably underpays the talent in their commercials.

5. Microsoft: Be the one

A lot of ads focused on women's empowerment this year, including Olay's all-female space walk and Secret's female football kicker. While those ads leaned on nonfiction events, they featured fictional characters. The best woman-focused ad was all true, featuring 49ers assistant coach Katie Sowers, the first ever woman to coach in the big game. Microsoft's ad celebrates her breakthrough achievement and lets viewers learn about her lifetime love for football. It's already earned more than 12 million views in less than a week.

Below the Top 5

Those are my top five, but there are plenty more watchable ads -- some serious, some funny, some memorable, some dumb. Here's a look at a bunch of them.

Procter and Gamble: Chili spill

Apparently this was a Bounty ad, though other Procter & Gamble products, from Olay to Charmin to Mr. Clean, all come together in this ad set at a Super Bowl party with a big chili spill. Best part: Old Spice guy Isaiah Mustafa shows up shirtless on a white horse, and manages to stay clean despite the huge mess, because of course he does.


In this spot, actor Anthony Anderson and his real-life mama Doris put T-Mobile's nationwide #5GThatWorks to the test. It's pretty adorable. 

Facebook: Ready to rock? 

Facebook's first Super Bowl spot promotes the idea that there's a Facebook group for every interest, whether it's rock climbing, rock buggies or experimental rocketry. "Whatever you rock, there's a Facebook group for you," reads a tagline for the ad, which unfolds to the tune of "I Wanna Rock" by Twisted Sister. 

At the end of the spot, a bunch of runners in sweatshirts jog up the steps of Philadelphia's Museum of Modern Art, which Sylvester Stallone famously ascended in the 1976 film Rocky. Stallone himself shows up at the top of the steps, as does Chris Rock. 

President Donald Trump: Re-election ads

It's an election year, as you've surely noticed. President Donald Trump aired two ads during the game. One touts wage growth and low unemployment, and another showcases Alice Marie Johnson, a first-time nonviolent drug offender, whose prison sentence was commuted by Trump.

Mike Bloomberg: George

Trump wasn't the only candidate advertising on Sunday. Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg is running for president, and his Super Bowl ad highlights his fight against gun violence by focusing on George Kemp Jr., who was shot to death in Texas in 2013.

Rocket Mortgage: Jason Momoa

Rocket Mortgage features Game of Thrones and Aquaman star Jason Momoa in its ad. It gets a little weird when Momoa starts stripping off his muscles, and then his famed head of curls. Too much information, Khal Drogo!

Hummer: EV

General Motors has announced it will begin selling a battery-powered Hummer pickup truck in September 2021, and a very quiet commercial hints at how quiet the new vehicle will be.

Secret: The Secret Kicker

Soccer players Carli Lloyd and Crystal Dunn star in the deodorant company's ad about a female football kicker.

Audi: Let It Go

Game of Thrones' Arya Stark, aka Maisie Williams, gets stuck in traffic and belts out a rendition of "Let It Go" from Frozen. Winter may have come, but the cold never bothered her anyway.

Presidente Beer: A-Rod

Former MLB star Alex Rodriguez has deep roots in the Dominican Republic. He's now the chairman of Presidente USA, the American arm of the Dominican pilsner, and shows his Dominican pride in the Super Bowl ad.

Olay: Make Space for Women

October 2019 saw the historic first all-female spacewalk, and there have been two more since then. Olay's Super Bowl ad is inspired by these walks, featuring Lilly Singh, Busy Philipps and retired astronaut Nicole Stott, with Taraji P. Henson as their mission controller and Katie Couric as herself. And if you tweet using the hashtag #MakeSpaceForWomen, the brand will donate $1 (up to $500,000) to the organization Girls Who Code.

Amazon: Before Alexa

Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi imagine what life was like before Alexa, with the help of a number of funny fake flashbacks. Be thankful you're not relying on a dude in a covered wagon to provide you with musical entertainment these days.

Walmart: Famous Visitors

Everyone needs groceries, including time travelers, space aliens and the like. Everyone from R2-D2 and C-3PO to Buzz Lightyear to Bill S. Preston, Esq. show up to utilize Walmart's grocery pickup service in this spacey ad. This ad invites rewatching, just to pick out the various cameos.

Snickers: Fix the World

Snickers' Super Bowl ad humorously lays out some of the world's problems (babies named Kale, home assistants spying on us) and tries to solve things by feeding the planet a giant chocolate bar. Hey, we'll try anything at this point.

Bud Light: Post Malone

Bud Light made two potential Super Bowl commercials featuring rapper Post Malone, and asked fans to vote for their favorite. One features the musician choosing between Bud Light and Bud Light Seltzer with help from his brain's control panel, while the other shows the reactions from his various body parts to a sip of mango-flavored Bud Light Seltzer. (Remember Pixar's Inside Out? Both ads are kinda like that.) Bud Light announced that the first ad won the popular vote. (Personally, I thought the one set in the bar was funnier.)

Saucony: One small step

How about reducing our carbon footprint by starting with footwear? Saucony's Super Bowl ad reveals that the shoe brand is developing its first biodegradable shoe.

Saint Archer Gold: Patience

Saint Archer Gold is a new premium light beer from Molson Coors. In this ad, professional skateboarder Paul Rodriguez skates through San Diego trying to find the beer, to the tune of Guns 'n Roses' "Patience."

Michelob ULTRA: Jimmy Fallon works out

The late night talk show host doesn't love working out, until his training partner, John Cena, helps him liven things up. Who wouldn't be more enthused about jogging around a track if The Roots are offering you a live soundtrack?

Discover: No

Famous movie and TV scenes and other short clips where people spout "no" are used to drive home the idea that the card has no annual fees. Aw, John Candy, we miss you.

Discover: Yes

As a counterpart to the "no annual fees" commercial featuring various clips of people spouting "no," this one features a batch of faces (Kenneth the page from 30 Rock!) saying "yes," as in, "yes, we accept Discover."

Little Caesars: Best thing since sliced bread

When Little Caesars pizza delivery is dubbed the "best thing since sliced bread," the statement wreaks havoc at Sliced Bread headquarters.

Take 5 bar: Where've you been?

Reese's Take 5 bar isn't as ubiquitous as the company's peanut butter cups -- the candy bar includes peanut butter, chocolate, caramel, peanuts and pretzels. The ad features an office worker who's shocked that her co-workers haven't heard of the candy bar, and all of them have reasons that play off cliches for being ignorant. One guy even has his head up his -- never mind. Kinda can't believe they went there.

Dashlane: Password Paradise

Password manager Dashlane drops a guy into a scene reminiscent of Dante's Inferno in this amusing spot. To make it into paradise, he'll need to remember his password, which he can't, of course. 

Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold: 6 for 6-pack

It's a beer commercial with an ambitious social goal. This ad promises that for every six-pack of Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold purchased, the company will help transition 6 square feet of farmland to organic. Drink up!

New York Life: Love Takes Action

New York Life's commercial may be the only Super Bowl ad ever to teach viewers some ancient Greek. The commercial explains four different Greek words for love, settling on "agápē," which is described as "love as an action," and draws a parallel to the company's 175 years in business.

NFL: Inspire Change

This dramatic and serious ad has aired before, but the NFL will run it during the Super Bowl. Retired NFL wide receiver Anquan Boldin tells the story of his cousin who was shot to death by a police officer in Florida. The ad promotes the league's Inspired Change initiative, which works to showcase NFL employees working to create positive change, and awards grants to social justice groups.

Porsche: The Heist

In a very Fast-and-Furious-style ad, someone apparently steals an all-electric Taycan Turbo S from the Porsche Museum in Germany, and the museum's security guards all pile into the other Porsches on exhibit to chase him down. Pity the poor dude who gets stuck with the Porsche tractor.

Budweiser: Typical American

A Super Bowl ad from Budweiser takes negative-sounding words and phrases about what a "typical American" is -- show-offs, competitive, uninvited -- and turns them sideways, depicting heartwarming acts by Americans that can be described in those same ways. Fun fact: The spot was directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow.

Squarespace: Winona Ryder goes home

Actress Winona Ryder stars in a Super Bowl ad for Squarespace, and revisits Winona, Minnesota, the city for which she was named. A three-minute film available online shows the actress wandering the town and then making a website (apparently, this one) on Squarespace with the help of a friendly waitress.

Heinz: Find the goodness

Heinz ketchup found a way to combine four separate ads in one, including a clown, a family of villains, another planet and a candelabra lit by a ghost. All four stories come together for a ketchup-related ending. The four-in-one ad was directed by Roman Coppola, son of Francis Ford Coppola, and one of the developers of Mozart in the Jungle.

Avocados from Mexico: Molly Ringwald

The Avocados from Mexico marketing group has had some great ads, including the 2015 ad where countries draft various foodstuffs and animals ("the United States selects ... wheat"). In this year's commercial, actress Molly Ringwald hawks a number of home-shopping-network-style products for avocados, including a tortilla chip-shaped pool float.

BudweiserCanada: Whassup again

The classic series of "Whassup?" ads for Budweiser ran from 1999 to 2002, creating one of those catchphrases that was fun at first and almost immediately became annoying. But 20 years have passed, and a Super Bowl ad for BudweiserCanada reimagines the catchphrase spouting from a whole apartment full of smart devices. (The Roomba is the best.) There's an Uber tie-in at the end, as the ad encourages those drinking during the game to contact a ride-hailing service.

SodaStream: Bill Nye

SodaStream, the gadget that lets you make bubbly water at home, has enlisted Bill Nye the Science Guy for a Super Bowl ad about finding water on Mars. The ad also promotes less use of single-use plastics.

Planters: Mr. Peanut dies

Kill off your mascot? Bud Light did it last year in a Super Bowl ad, and now Planters nuts is trying that theme. In an ad that ran before the Super Bowl, monocled giant peanut Mr. Peanut gets into a car accident with actors Wesley Snipes and Matt Walsh, and gives up his life for his friends. A third-quarter commercial showed Mr. Peanut's funeral, including the birth of Baby Nut.

Cheetos: MC Hammer

What time does the Super Bowl start? Hammer Time. The ad for Cheetos features MC Hammer belting out his famed line "can't touch this," and reminding a hapless dude not to touch anything when your fingers are covered in orange Cheetos dust.

Mountain Dew: The Shining

New Mountain Dew Zero Sugar is playing off the movie version of Stephen King's famed The Shining, with Bryan Cranston as ax-wielding Jack Torrance and Tracee Ellis Ross as his terrified wife, Wendy. Nice homage to the elevator scene and the creepy twins, too.

Pop Tarts: Jonathan Van Ness

Queer Eye grooming expert Jonathan Van Ness has problems with pretzels at a craft table. Since it's a Pop-Tarts ad, we bet he soon discovers the toaster pastry now has a variety with a pretzel crust.

TurboTax: Tax People

TurboTax's ad declares that all people can do their own taxes, from museum guards to cowboys to birthday party entertainers.

Hyundai: Boston accent

Was Hyundai so convinced the New England Patriots would be in the Super Bowl that they commissioned a Boston-accent-themed ad to fit in? The Pats and Tom Brady (and his ENORMOUS coat) are usually a good Super Bowl bet, but not this year. Look for Rachel Dratch, John Krasinski, Chris Evans and former Red Sox player David (Big Papi) Ortiz all in an ad campaign based on speaking Bahhhhstahn. Guess a Kansas City or San Francisco-accent themed ad wouldn't be quite as funny.

Verizon: Vital Signs

Cell phone company Verizon's Super Bowl commercial shows how 5G can help medical personnel save lives. The company also encourages viewers to join in and volunteer in their communities.

Originally published on Jan. 21, and updated as new ads are revealed.