For even the biggest sports fan, the Super Bowl is about more than a football game. It’s about the parties, the halftime show and, you guessed it, the commercials. From the E-Trade baby to the Joe Montana stain, the goal of these commercials is to get people talking. And this year more than ever, the goal was to get people talking online.
We used to have to wait until game time to see the much-anticipated commercials, but YouTube put some of the ads on display early, allowing viewers to comment — or criticize — before they even hit the airwaves.
Two commercials in particular sparked intense controversy. Volkswagen’s “Get Happy” commercial, featuring a Minnesotan speaking in a Jamaican accent, was called “blackface with voices” by New York Times columnist Charles Blow.
Questions were also raised about Mercedes-Benz’s ad featuring model Kate Upton. Some viewers believe that this commercial was tasteless and wonder if it was too risqué for the Super Bowl.
And it wouldn’t be the Super Bowl without GoDaddy pushing the envelope. This year’s “Perfect Match” ad introduced Bar Refaeli as the “sexy” side of GoDaddy and a stereotypical computer whiz named Walter as the “nerdy” side. It concluded with a close-up video of the two kissing. Needless to say, this got people talking, and not about GoDaddy’s products and services.
But not all commercials got negative press. Doritos once again hit a home run (scored a touchdown?) with its “Fashionista Daddy” ad, and Audi’s “Prom” commercial made every teenage boy’s dream come true.
One big trend we witnessed this year was that companies took advantage of our multiple screens. Fess up — while you were watching the game, you were also keeping an eye on Twitter on your iPhone, tablet or laptop, weren’t you? I know I was!
Coca-Cola capitalized on our multi-screen multi-tasking by giving viewers a chance to impact its commercial in real time. In the ad, cowboys, showgirls and badlanders are racing in a desert toward a giant Coke in the distance. Viewers’ votes (cast on cokechase.com or by tweeting) determined who got there first. This was a savvy way to: 1) get viewers to engage with the Coca-Cola brand and 2) keep viewers invested throughout a series of commercials. Spoiler alert: the showgirls won.
Audi also used viewer input to determine the ending of its aforementioned “Prom” commercial. However, these votes were tallied, and the decision was announced prior to the Super Bowl.
So which ads rose above the rest to earn the most attention in 2013?
• According to Mashable, the most talked about commercial — by a long shot — was GoDaddy’s “Perfect Match.”
• With household ratings of 47.4 and 47.2, CBS’s promo for “Person of Interest” and Samsung’s “The Big Pitch” were the two commercials viewed live by the most Americans.
• With more than 9 million views, the most viewed commercial on YouTube was Budweiser’s heartwarming “Brotherhood.”
• The real test: Which ad did viewers actually like the most? Dodge Ram’s “Farmer” took home the gold with the highest ratings on Hulu’s AdZone. In addition to viewer praise, this ad also received high praise by everyone from USA Today to Politico.
OK, I know I don’t have any authority here, but I have to give Oreo a shout out for creating my favorite ad of the night and for reacting so quickly to the Super Bowl blackout. Props to you, Oreo.
Overall, Super Bowl commercials allow marketers to push the envelope (GoDaddy) or make a statement (Dodge Ram). However they decide to use the 30 seconds, you can bet it’ll get people talking.