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Breakdown: The Making of Big Game Commercials

Mike Maher

Take a look behind-the-scenes of the big commercials from Reddit, Frito-Lay, Amazon, and Paramount that premiered at Super Bowl LV.


Paramount+ “Paramount Mountain” by ViacomCBS, Droga5, and The Mill

ViacomCBS released a slew of new Paramount Mountain commercials that feature stars from a variety of shows, including Star Trek, I Love Lucy, PAW Patrol, Beavis and Butt-Head, and many more. Perhaps a notable moment was the inclusion of Spongebob’s “Sweet Victory” performance that fans were hoping to see played at the Super Bowl last year.

James Corden in Super Bowl LV Commercial
Behind-the-scenes making of the new Paramount Mountain commercial. Image via ViacomCBS.

SVP of Creative Marketing for ViacomCBS, Sarah LaBrache, talked about the campaign,

Showing the huge assortment of talent on the service was important to us. Having the talent all come together—and at the Super Bowl—felt really massive.

We shot for fourteen days, with twenty-seven of our talent, and incorporated more than a dozen animated characters. The shoots spanned across three countries: the U.S., the U.K., and Canada. In some cases, we filmed some talent remotely, via their own on-set crews.

Due to COVID restrictions, we shot each individual separately. In most cases, they would show up to a big studio with a snowy ground and a green screen all around it. Our goal was to make this look like we shot with everyone, at the same time, together in one place. Thankfully, we had an incredible VFX partner in The Mill, which went to great lengths to make sure everything from eyelines, to lighting, to camera moves, matched perfectly.

-Sarah LaBrache, SVP of Creative Marketing
Collaborating via Zoom
Collaborating via Zoom became a challenge. Image via ViacomCBS.

Dan Kelly, Group Creative Director at creative agency Droga5, talked about technical challenges:

In normal times, I would have been on-set right next to the director. We would have had a video village with our clients and our teams, where we’re all watching and discussing in real-time. Instead, we were there through Zoom, and we were able to see what was happening via monitors from the set. It was tough to deal with the virtual shooting environment and not be able to discuss things in a more human way. It was also a slower process.

-Dan Kelly, Group Creative Director
Utilizing a Green Screen
Using a green screen to create the same background for each actor. Image via ViacomCBS.

You can read more about the making of this series of commercials from ViacomCBS.


Reddit’s “5-Second Ad” by Reddit and R/GA

New York’s R/GA marketing agency turned around this ad in about twenty-four hours, brainstorming the piece on a Tuesday and finishing the commercial Wednesday.

Roxy Young, Reddit Chief Marketing Officer, told The New York Times,

I felt like, with all the conversation around Reddit, we had really earned the right to be in that Super Bowl moment, where there are millions of people tuned into a singular event . . . I just didn’t think that we could come together with thirty seconds of beautifully produced material—but I was confident that we could do something in five seconds.

-Roxy Young, Chief Marketing Officer
Reddit Super Bowl LV Commercial
Image via Reddit.

The commercial was a massive success, being the second most-searched commercial during the game. Especially given that the commercial only aired in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Boston, and Washington, D.C.


“Flat Matthew” by Frito-Lay, Goodby Silverstein & Partners, Damien Chazelle, and The Mill

Damien Chazelle (Whiplash, La La Land) directed one of the most talked about ads, featuring a 2D Matthew McConaughey for Frito-Lay’s 3D Doritos.

"Flat Matthew" Super Bowl LV Commercial
Behind-the-scenes of McConaughey shoot. Image via Doritos 3D / Frito-Lay / The Mill / Goodby Silverstein & Partners.

2D lead artist, Alexander Caldish, says,

Damien has done a really wonderful job of visualizing this. A big, big challenge in this process is figuring out a way of getting those real characteristic movements of Matthew, and translating him into a true 2D representation of himself that can exist within reality.

-Alexander Caldish, 2D Artist

Doritos put together a whole breakdown that you can watch here:


“Alexa’s Body” by Amazon, Lucky Generals, Hungry Man, and The Mill

The Mill was once again behind the post-production of another Super Bowl spot, this one from Amazon.

“Alexa’s Body” was a blend of real-world and fantasy, starring Michael B. Jordan. The Mill’s Creative Director, Chris Knight, had this to say about lighting Jordan’s eyes,

The bigger challenge was the right balance of Michael’s eyes, which reflect Alexa’s iconic light ring when he speaks. The key was blending the ring light into his eyes and dialing it to a level that wasn’t robotic, sinister, or overpowering. Just the right level to help sell the MBJ/Alexa combination! 

-Chris Knight, Creative Director

The Mill’s LA Head of Color, Paul Yacono, further talked about the real world vs. fantasy world,

Wayne McClammy and Director of Photography Christian Sprenger wanted the office scene and the fantasy worlds to feel different. Christian used spherical lenses for the office scene and anamorphic for the fantasy, so immediately there were two distinct qualities. To enhance that, we made the office scene slightly cooler and more generic, and then, when we switched to the fantasy scenes, we used more intimate and cinematic tones.

-Paul Yacono, LA Head of Color

Cover image via Doritos 3D / Frito-Lay / The Mill / Goodby Silverstein & Partners.

For more behind-the-scenes projects, check out these articles: