2020 Super Bowl Commercials: Funeral for Mr. Peanut, Tears for Google

After days of hype, Planters ran a commercial showing the funeral of its monocled mascot, Mr. Peanut. Other brand avatars stood at the grave site, including the Kool-Aid Man and Mr. Clean. After the Kool-Aid Man shed a tear, something sprouted in the dirt. It was a baby version of Mr. Peanut, squeaking like a dolphin and saying, “Just kidding, I’m back.” The reaction on social media was not kind.

The great majority of Super Bowl LIV spots were jaunty and optimistic, lightening the mood with what Matt Ian, the chief creative officer of the McGarryBowen agency in New York, called “some wonderful dumbness.”

TurboTax had a commercial involving people of many races, genders, ages and walks of life dancing to a bounce-inflected earworm of a jingle, “All People Are Tax People.”

The mood continued the trend toward tonally light commercials that came to the fore in 2018. In 2017, the first year of President Trump’s administration, Budweiser and Coca-Cola, among other brands, touched on immigration, equal rights and fair pay.

Martin Scorsese, who is nominated for an Oscar this year for “The Irishman,” was also involved in a Super Bowl commercial, but not behind the camera. Instead, he appeared in an ad from Coca-Cola, waiting anxiously at a party for Jonah Hill, whom he had directed in “The Wolf of Wall Street,” to muster enough energy to join him. Mr. Hill, who was cast first, suggested Mr. Scorsese when the company asked him to recommend someone to play the out-of-place friend.

While many ads looked to the past for inspiration, Walmart and others were fixated on the cosmos. Olay alluded to the first all-female spacewalk last year in an ad featuring Lilly Singh and Busy Philipps with the retired astronaut Nicole Stott. A spot from the home carbonation company SodaStream, with Bill Nye, showed astronauts finding water on Mars.