Canadian-only Super Bowl commercials disappoint again in 2021

In case you were part of the half of the country that didn’t tune in to the Super Bowl on CTV, TSN or RDS, you may have missed the cool Super Bowl ads.

And if you’re part of the half who did, you probably missed them too, since most of the best ads didn’t air on Canadian television. Instead, you were treated to a bunch of forgettable car commercials, repetitive teasers for CTV programming, unoriginal promos for Crave, and lots of ads for Skip the Dishes somehow.

(I counted five airings of the Jon Hamm spots between kickoff and the end of the CTV broadcast, including three in the first hour, which led to it being the butt of a lot of jokes on Twitter.)

It is unfortunately the reality that we still have to live with (at least those of us not close enough to pick up a U.S. station with an antenna or determined enough to find a bootlegged stream). The CRTC tried to answer consumer demand and allow Canadians access to American ads, but that was overturned by the Supreme Court and its repeal also written into the new North American trade agreement.

If you want to watch the U.S. ads, they’re online. On YouTube’s AdBlitz playlist or on Programming Insider’s more comprehensive list. Some of them are great, some are silly, few are truly memorable, but a lot of them took a lot of effort.

Many of them also aired in Canada. But a lot of them didn’t, either because the advertisers didn’t want to spend the extra money or because their services or products aren’t offered here.

Meanwhile, north of the border, we got some Super Bowl commercials of our own. And they were … not that great. Some tried — Michael Bublé selling Bubly again, and some ads for investing companies — but nothing compared to the U.S. offer.

It’s up to advertisers, not Bell alone, to create a uniquely Canadian Super Bowl ad break experience. Frankly, advertisers have to do more in general to make their ads more interesting. They might think they don’t have to, since Bell has the exclusive broadcasting rights to the Super Bowl in Canada, and people are going to watch it live regardless, but that kind of complacency isn’t going to serve the industry well in the long term.

And Bell could set an example by upping its own game. I get that you’ll have CTV promos (the American broadcast was filled with CBS promos) and ads for Bell Mobility, but maybe you could throw some extra cash at the creative people you haven’t laid off yet and get them to do something a bit more interesting next time.

Anyway, for the sake of keeping a record, here are the ads that most closely resemble “Super Bowl” style that aired only in Canada:

Welcome to the Haulerverse (No Frills):

Evening walk (Questrade):

Bublé delivré (Bubly):

Noah – Self-Employed (WealthSimple):

Open Your Eyes (

Frankenstein – Alive (WealthSimple):

Try Pepsi Zero Sugar cola:

Eating Evolved (GoodFood):

Working Mom (H&R Block Canada):


12 thoughts on “Canadian-only Super Bowl commercials disappoint again in 2021

  1. Ian Howarth

    Every year it’s the same old shit about Canadians who don’t get to see the spiffy, clever (maybe) US ads in the Super Bowl extravaganza. This is shit most people get over in a day. Now you can see them online. I liked the Frankenstein ad a lot. And I think Michael Buble is a gifted singer/actor/comedian. I read today that Springsteen is taking some heat over his Jeep ad. The Washington Post in particular hammered him but good in a great piece of writing. Poor Bruce; all he wanted in doing a Jeep ad was to kinda plead for Americans to meet in the middle, somewhere in Kansas where the spot was filmed. Despite the blowback, Springsteen will endure. Only a big name like him can claim an interesting backstory to how he finally decided to do a tv ad. The very first ad Bruce has ever done for TV. Dylan did it. Eminem did it. But I wish Jon Hamm would stop doing it. The Dirty Dishes thing. They run this commercial endlessly during the hockey game, so you’re captive. I have to mute it every time it comes on. I used to like Jon Hamm.

  2. Mike David

    Strange that first time -and from some one older then CJAD ,totally lacking the stupidity of changes like Dr Laurie. Why is Coast to Coast still on same station as Dr Joe?

  3. Anonymous

    I guess the thing that makes me laugh the most is Bell touting the big lead in to the new Holmes show that ran right after the game was over. They are acting like it was the in game promotion of this show that drove people to watch it, rather than admitting that it’s much more likely hang overs and people who just left the TV on the same channel when the game was done. It will be interesting to see if that show has anywhere near as many viewers next episode. Holmes is popular, I will admit, but not sure he’s that popular!

    For advertising otherwise, while the Superbowl does read a huge percentage of the population, it still probably isn’t enough viewers and return on investment for companies to pop for a unique high production ad.

    I also think that Bell absolutely lowers the value of their advertising by pushing so many of their own programming and service promotions. I suspect people mentally tune out after a while, and that could also mean they tune out to all the rest of the advertising in that block until the game comes back on. I understand they are trying to keep the available ad pool low to push prices higher, but it seems they should spend a whole lot more time and effort on having a wider selection of their shows and services promoted, perhaps with different types or styles of advertising. The standard pad waiting for the network to come back on ads are really, really annoying.

  4. Michel

    I hope you’re not really wondering why Skip the Dishes was overly present as an advertiser. If you tried to order take-out on Super Bowl Sunday, you’d know why. ?

  5. Mark piche

    It is all a matter of perspective when viewing commercials dealing with the Super Bowl as it is only hosted in the USA and not open or played anywhere else The added inference the greatest football game on earth in in drastic contrast to what is called here soccer. Be it that it may on watching only the adds well after the game since I did not watch it, enforces the fact of a country still with reverence to fluff and no substance. GM”s EV add was an exemplary example of boasting above ones capabilities. Others followed suit in other aspects too. As for the legality of watching the adds most of the population in Canada could not care less.

  6. Chucky

    Super Bowl commercials are self-centred and spenthrift, regardless of country. Jeep scrubbed its costly Super Bowl ad with Bruce Springsteen amid a report that he was arrested for DUI on a visit to New Jersey late last year.

  7. Mario D

    So, for once the commercial did fit right in with the rest of the evening. Disappointing commercials, disappointing game, disappointing halftime show. Absolutely nothing from that evening will be remembered in a few years from now so i guess that investors who went for exposure did not get the usual hype. Covid19 strikes again i guess…


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