When the Super Bowl is a blowout, you need the commercials to pick up the slack. The good news from Sunday night: On the whole, the ads were stronger than last year. The bad news: Nobody was really riveted to their TVs and drafting off the energy of a thrilling football game.
Still, there was lots to enjoy from advertisers on Sunday night. See our favorite spots below.
Also, we graded the ads in real time on Sunday. Visit our Big Game Ad Report Card site to see all the commercials again, and grade them yourself.
Agency: Wieden + Kennedy
Brilliantly directed by Bryan Buckley, this commercial took a fun insight—that Super Bowl Sunday isn't the greatest day for most football fans—and ran with it. And danced with it. And got to second base with it.
9. Volkswagen "Wings"
Strong concept, heavenly visuals. And you remember the longevity message. One of the high points from the auto advertisers.
Major points for being self-deprecating, plus a truly impressive cavalcade of 1980s stars. One of the most surprisingly strong ads on the game. The :60 is even better.
7. Coca-Cola "It's Beautiful"
Agency: Wieden + Kennedy
A lot of Americana in this year's Super Bowl ads, and no spot was as diverse about it, geographically or racially, as this one. A commercial as beautiful as the country it saluted.
6. Chrysler "America's Import"
Not as strong as "Born of Fire," "Halftime in America" or "Farmer," but this two-minute Chrysler spot still had attitude for miles and kept viewers glued to the screen. Dylan was a risky choice, but it worked.
Agency: Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners
Great use of Tim Tebow (and his lack of a contract) in T-Mobile's first two ads of the night, which were very entertaining. The third spot, with text only, was a letdown. Tebow deserved that third ad.
4. Microsoft "Empowering"
This one grew on me. The robotic voiceover, only later revealed to be narration by ex-NFL player Steve Gleason, immediately sets it apart. It fits a lot into 60 seconds, but the message is simple and clear. A winner from Microsoft.
3. Hyundai "Dad's Sixth Sense"
Agency: Innocean USA
A quiet winner from Hyundai, it had everything, from slapstick comedy to a payoff that made perfect sense. You don't need 60 seconds (or more) to do a great car commercial.
2. Cheerios "Gracie"
Agency: Saatchi & Saatchi
A simple story, great acting and a subtle rebuke to haters—perfect for the brand and for the occasion. General Mills made its second appearance ever on the Super Bowl really count.
1. Budweiser "Puppy Love"
Just because it's a crowd-pleaser doesn't mean it isn't brilliant. This ad has everything you want in a Super Bowl commercial—it's cute yet stately; it feels tangible yet totally iconic. It conquered YouTube, and then conquered the telecast as well—even though it aired late in a boring game. It will go down as one of the classics.