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Frito-Lay Brands Aim For Star-Powered Laughs With Super Bowl Ads

For many viewers, Super Bowl Sunday isn’t just about the game — the commercial themselves are a highly-anticipated aspect. For years, audiences have come together to laugh, cry and be inspired by Big Game ads that often take a different approach or tone than traditional brand messaging on TV. 

According to iSpot’s Ace Metrix, since the 2014 Super Bowl, “funny” ads have been a staple; at least 53% of ads were viewed as funny each year, and hit a high-water mark of 69% of spots during the 2020 game. Female celebrities have yielded the funniest ads over the full timeframe from 2014-2020: 75% of Ace Metrix survey respondents found Super Bowl spots with female celebrities funny, while 56% of those featuring male celebrities were seen as funny. 

Frito-Lay has been leaning into this trend with a variety of its brands. Doritos spots have regularly been among the most humorous Super Bowl ads, owning five of the 10 funniest ads since 2014, according to data from Ace Metrix — and three with perfect 10.0 scores:

Doritos has opted for celebrity-laden commercials in recent years, generating some of the game’s most memorable advertising moments. This year, the brand is leveraging Matthew McConaughey, Mindy Kaling and Jimmy Kimmel for a Doritos 3D Crunch spot. Leading up to the game, Doritos released a few teasers, including this one featuring Kaling and Kimmel that preps viewers to engage with the hashtag #flatmatthew in advance of the game. Despite the Doritos logo not appearing until the very end, 47% of audiences still recognized this as a Doritos spot, according to data from Ace Metrix. “Curiosity” was the top emotion from viewers, which makes sense since it was a teaser rather than the full ad. When asked about the Single Best Thing about the spot, 28% of survey respondents cited the characters. 

Another Frito-Lay brand, Cheetos, is also harnessing star power this year, with an ad featuring Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher and Shaggy — complete with the iconic “It Wasn’t Me” song. The one minute, full-length ad was released on Feb. 1, just under a week before game time. According to Ace Metrix, this ad scored above average across all industries for Attention, Likeability, Watchabilty, Information, Change, Desire and Relevance, signaling that Cheetos may have a touchdown on its hands. “Funny” was the number one emotion from survey respondents, and 32% of viewers said the characters were the Single Best Thing, while 22% thought the music was the best thing about the ad. Brand recognition was at 82% for survey respondents.

If those spots weren’t enough, Frito-Lay is packing even more celebs and humor into “Twas the Night Before the Super Bowl,” which unleashes a bevy of NFL Hall-of-Famers (and soon-to-be honorees), narrated by Marshawn Lynch. The commercial’s Attention (731) and Likeability (731) both scored well above the average, according to Ace Metrix, and “funny” was the top emotion from audiences, followed by “love it.” Of surveyed viewers, 26% cited the characters as the Single Best Thing, which makes sense given that the spot features former NFL stars from Peyton and Eli Manning to Terry Bradshaw, Jerry Rice, Deion Sanders and more.