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The Latest: Robinhood's ad emerges from the time capsule

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Rob DeMartin

This photo provided by Jeep brand shows a scene from Jeep brand's 2021 Super Bowl NFL football spot. (Rob DeMartin/Jeep brand via AP)

The latest news on Super Bowl commercials. (All times EST.)

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10 p.m.

Smartphone-based stock market investment service Robinhood bought its Super Bowl spot in December after a successful year, unaware that it was about to make global headlines.

“We’re all investors,” says the ad that features a cross-section of people from different occupations. One person is using the app as she gets a coffee refill in a diner.

Robinhood users were among the small investors who shocked Wall Street last month. A social media frenzy among small investors briefly pushed up shares of troubled video-game retailer GameStop by 1,600% at the expense of hedge funds that were betting it would lose value. The stock frenzy also brought customer backlash to Robinhood and scrutiny from Congress and regulators after the company restricted some types of trades in response to the overwhelming volume.

“We got to the end of the year, looked back and reflected on what we’d seen,” said Robinhood Chief Marketing Officer Christina Smedley. The company pulled the ad together in four weeks, she said.

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9:45 p.m.

Jeep starred iconic singer Bruce Springsteen in his first ever ad promoting the idea of unity. The ad shows scenes of middle America, including a small chapel in Lebanon, Kansas, near the geographic center of the country. Springsteen visits the chapel and lights a candle.

“It’s no secret the middle has been a hard place to get to lately, between red and blue, servant and citizen, freedom and fear,” Springsteen intones, adding “we need the middle.”

Springsteen scored the ad and contributed to adapting the script, which is from Michigan ad agency Doner.

The ad echoed, without explicitly mentioning, President Joe Biden’s calls to summon American resilience and unity to confront the nation’s deep divisions. Springsteen also performed remotely at the prime-time celebration following Biden’s inauguration last month.

In an interview with the AP, Fiat Chrysler chief marketing officer Olivier Francois said the company had more light hearted ads in place to run during its two minutes of air time during the game, but in January they heard that -- after years of asking whether Springsteen would be interested in doing a FCA commercial -- Springsteen was on board with the “Road Ahead” concept. So they shot it in one 12-hour day last Sunday and edited it throughout the week.

FCA is known for creating iconic Super Bowl ads such as “Imported in Detroit” in 2011 that featured Eminem talking about the toughness of his home city and last year’s hit ad that remade “Groundhog’s Day” With Bill Murray. But not all FCA ads have been successes. In 2018, an ad for Ram Trucks that quoted a Martin Luther King Jr. speech on the 50th anniversary of his death was widely criticized for seemingly commercializing the civil rights icon.

During a year when most advertisers shunned the serious for a light hearted tone, Olivier said it was worth taking the risk on a serious ad in order to create a “healing” commercial that will be remembered long after the game.

“There’s a divide and Bruce wants to do one thing, speak to the common ground,” he said. “It doesn’t take a stand, left or right, blue or red, the only stand it takes is the middle.”

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9:30 p.m.

Fiverr teased that its ad would feature Four Seasons Total Landscaping, the scene of an infamous Rudy Giuliani press conference during last year’s tumultuous election, raising the question whether the ad would be political or not.

It was not. Instead, the tongue-in-cheek ad features Four Seasons Total Landscaping owner Marie Siravo talking about how to build a successful business with the help of Fiverr.

Siravo drives a futuristic car through an idealized version of the inside of Four Seasons total landscaping including a sci-fi scale atrium.

The message is that Fiverr’s freelancers can “help get you where you want to be."

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8:00 p.m.

Most brands that have money to spend on Super Bowl ads are already household names, but the big game is also a chance for upstarts to make a big splash.

That’s what the CEO of Swedish oat-milk manufacturer Oatly attempted in an ad starring himself. “Wow, wow, no cow,” sang CEO Toni Petersson, as he played a keyboard in a field of grain.

The bizarre song and non-professional singing got a mix of plaudits and brickbats on social media, which seemed to be the point. Moments after it aired, the company started promoting a T-shirt with the words: “I totally hated that Oatly commercial.”

“If you just watched our CEO sing in an oat field on the big game, we can’t give you back those 30 seconds but we can give you a free t-shirt that lets the world know where you stand on our attempt to promote Toni’s singing skills to a wider audience,” the company said in a tweet.

Another lesser-known brand, Dr. Squatch, also promoted itself with a bizarre ad, but hired comedian James Schrader to pitch the California soap-maker focused on men’s hygiene and natural ingredients. ___

7:15 p.m.

General Motors used humor in a Super Bowl ad to promote its ambitious push to get more Americans to buy electric vehicles.

GM has set a goal of making the vast majority of the vehicles it produces electric by 2035, and the entire company carbon neutral five years after that.

When actor Will Ferrell finds out Norway has more electric vehicles per capita than the U.S., he goes on a madcap journey spanning countries with singer and actress Awkwafina and comedian Kenan Thompson to show that GM’s new battery for electric cars will soon be available for everyone.

GM’s Cadillac brand also has an ad set to air later in the game that is inspired by the 1990 classic film “Edward Scissorhands” hawking a hands-free feature for its electric SUV, the Lyriq.

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7:00 p.m.

Super Bowl advertiser DoorDash went hard on nostalgia, enlisting Sesame Street’s Muppets to convey the message that DoorDash can deliver goods from local stores, not just restaurants. “Hamilton” actor Daveed Diggs gives the ad some pizazz, with a peppy version of the children’s song “People in Your Neighborhood,” that morphs into a rap.

DoorDash is one of more than 20 first-time Super Bowl advertisers this year, and takes the plunge after benefiting from a shift toward home delivery while people hunkered down at home during the pandemic. DoorDash’s first-quarter ad enlisted the help of characters including Cookie Monster, Big Bird and Grover to try to convey the message that DoorDash can be used to pick up local store items like paper towels.

The ad is directed by “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” director Michel Gondry.

“Over the past year we’ve expanded our business into new categories,” said DoorDash’s vice president of marketing, Kofi Amoo-Gottfried. “It made sense to use the Super Bowl as a moment to start communicating this message given the scale of the audience we have the ability to speak to.”

It’s not the first time Diggs has worked with Muppets -- he appeared in Sesame Street sketches in 2017.