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Super Bowl XLV Commercials: A Night in Review

In recent years, Super Bowl commercials have become widely positioned as a focal highlight of game night, in some instances trumping sports talk and half time performance reviews.

Social media was abuzz last night in conversation ranging from Volkswagen, to Bud Light to Doritos. But who marketed their multimillion-dollar commercial spot best?

According to this Mashable infographic, brands began stirring up the Twitter masses days before the game, with Volkswagen’s Star Wars-themed commercial taking lead. As many ads got leaked onto YouTube before being aired, this commercial was quickly an established favorite. *Mashable also reported that PepsiCo’s popular Doritos commercial boasted the most significant buzz pre- game night, highlighting Alterian data which analyzed 73,751 online conversations from December 1 through February 1: http://mashable.com/2011/02/04/pepsico-super-bowl-buzz/. While sentiments have likely changed after the commercials aired last night, it will be interesting to see the findings of Alterian’s post-game buzz in comparison.

New this year, daily deal websites like Groupon and Living Social took advantage of the colossal Super Bowl audience, presenting comedic commercials that are actually already receiving a lot of flak. Groupon’s celebrity-endorsed commercials were viewed as making light of serious issues like endangered whales and deforestation, touting their “Save the Money” theme. Living Social featured a bearded, burly man transforming as a result of Living Social deals. The commercial ends presenting him in high-heels, lipstick and a dress, asserting “Living Social changed my life.” This too is being bashed for poor taste; as many are wondering who, in 2011, still think it’s funny to laugh at cross-dressing.

Another theme in this year’s ads was wildlife and animals – dogs, most prominently. Budweiser and Dorito’s played on the heartstrings of people like myself who are instantly glued to the screen at one glance of a cute pup. USA Today’s Ad Meter, which tracks the second-by-second responses of a panel of viewers to ads during the Super Bowl, ranked these two commercials as a tie for first place.

Other popular ads this year included Coca-Cola, Chevy, Snickers, as well as the popular E*TRADE “Talking Baby” commercials. A stand out this year, though, didn’t take the funny or ironic route: Chrysler’s “Imported from Detroit” commercial, highlighting the often misconceived Motor City, featured a two-minute spot of sweeping views of the city with Eminem in toe.  As a Detroit native I may be biased, but it sounds like the masses agree: (tune in at the two-minute mark) http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/super-bowl-ads-score-big-12856298.

You can watch all of the 2011 Super Bowl commercials, courtesy of Ad Age, here: http://adage.com/article/special-report-super-bowl/watch-super-bowl-commercials/148677/.

What brands do you think did it right at Super Bowl XLV?

*Disclaimer: Alterian is a Walker Sands client, though not one I work with directly.