The Super Bowl has always been a showcase for Madison Avenue, and this year was no different, with CBS charging $3.7-$3.8 million for 30 seconds of ad time in a broadcast once again expected to draw over 100 million people. But following the advertisements isn't just like reading Playboy for the articles anymore: It was the year of the go-viral-or-go-home Super Bowl commercial in 2013, with teasers, hashtags, controversies, superstars, and a lot more details and prizes (you can go to space this year!) than you'll even find on YouTube. It was all a bit much, really. But we followed the whole thing in real time, complete with everything people were saying online and at Super Bowl parties across America. Here is Super Sunday once again... without any football.
Update, 10:14 a.m.: Here are a few more ads — regional, blackout-sparked, and otherwise — that you may have missed on Sunday night.
10:45 p.m. Eastern: And that's a wrap, folks. The 35-minute blackout may not have exactly helped the CBS ratings, but something like 100 million people still watched the Baltimore Ravens defeat the San Francisco 49ers, even after a very strange goal-line stand turned into a safety and final of 34-31. Beyoncé may still have been the best part — Alicia Keys and the Sandy Hook kids were pretty heartwarming, too — but it was all around a pretty good year for Super Bowl commercials. Based on the online conversations we tracked for about seven straight hours, we'll give a couple of awards, but scroll down to watch every single key ad from Super Sunday....
The Most Talked About: Go Daddy's "Perfect Match"
The Most Intriguing: Dodge's "Farmer"
The Most Surprising: Jeep's "Whole Again"
The Most Emotional: Budweiser's "Brotherhood"
The Worst: Bud Light's "Lucky Chair" (because the blackout made it run twice)
10:31: "Are you sure you're not here to see a guy named Sam Sung?" Are Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen (and Bob Odenkirk!) sure they're not here to sell out by not selling out by also still kind of selling out? And what does LeBron have to do with all of this? Discuss:
10:22: We told you it wasn't the Kate Upton commercial. Despite that initial teaser from Mercedes, the automaker's "Soul" campaign is not all supermodel slo-mo and sexy Jon Hamm voiceover. It is more of a narrative kind of thing:
The Spot: The Rolling Stones, scoring their approximately 800th Super Bowl royalties check. Dafoe, doing his best Pacino. Upton, doing Kate Upton things. Usher, actually being kind of cooler than usual. And then things get kind of really obvious: high-speed driving into Vegas, the cover of every Condé Nast magazine (even Traveler!), passing a professional race car. Is this not the most stereotypical male fantasy ever? Luckily, Willem Dafoe kind of saves the thing, and the CLA really is kind of affordable, and Jon Hamm's voice is already living this kid's dream life anyway.
The Reaction: Well the website is pretty boring, actually. And the guy sitting next to me says there was "not nearly enough of Kate Upton."
10:15: SodaStream, the little home-carbonation machine that could, ran this ad...
...but it wanted to run this ad before CBS gave the no-no, because it was a little too mean to Coke and Pepsi:
10:13: "The miracle Montana stain is sweeping the nation."
The Reaction: Except, well, it's not. A worldwide meme is a lot of buildup for a Tide ad. Although it did play to both teams' history...
...and at least Tide won some points with this:
10:05: After Kaepernick does his Kaepernicking thing — and then blows the two-point conversion — Babylandia arrives from Kia:
All together now with the GIF: Awwww....
9:57: Really cool, really long Americana-style ad to photos, not video, with a "maybe next year" theme from Dodge. "To the farmer in all of us."
The Spot: "Keep plowing." Say what you will.
The Reaction: Much love (and God jokes) from the usually not very Real America crowd on Twitter....
The farmer ad was like the longest commercial ever— Hayden (@HaydenB_123) February 4, 2013
Ray Lewis was involved in a double stabbing murder, so God made a farmer.— Mobutu Sese Seko (@Mobute) February 4, 2013
#DodgeRamtribute to the Farmer was simply beautiful!— Michael Steele (@Steele_Michael) February 4, 2013
9:46: After a serious David Akers acting job and an even more serious hit on the ensuing kickoff, the Ravens drive deep into the end of the third quarter. (CBS blessedly lets the action unfold, even after the outage.) The NFL Network follows with Deion Sanders being wigged and athletic and really awesome. America just met Leon Sandcastle.
9:36: Are you crying yet? We told you the Budweiser baby Clydesdale ad was gonna be cute. Watch it again:
The Reaction: Half-embarrassed, half-honest...
Can't beat Landslide and horses.— Jonathan Wald (@jonathanwald) February 4, 2013
I remember my first strangely romantic relationship with a clydedale.— Casey McIntosh (@GatorCmac) February 4, 2013
If you got teared up during the Budweiser Landslide commercial thats not a sign you need therapy right? Just asking.— jason (@Jason) February 4, 2013
9:34: Beck's Sapphire:
9:34: Well laundry just got more appealing thanks to SpeedStick:
9:33: Jimmy Fallon is untenable. This Twitter-made ad for Lexus hasn't gone over well:
9:32: The 49ers may be coming back strong from the power outage (Frank Gore just made it 28-20), but Oreo, who we told you was going hard on the viral stuff tonight, did tweet this:
9:27: We thought PSY wasn't doing "Gangnam Style" anymore? Must have gotten a healthy paycheck from... Wonderful Pistachios?
The Reaction: Well, enjoy this hashtag.
9:26: And here's this guy battling the cat for the morning after from a company called Gildan, which just spent a lot of money:
9:26: Continuing a space theme of the post-blackout Super Bowl, Kia goes all femme-bot for its new model:
9:22: Yes, Tracy Morgan had a Super Bowl ad for MiO Fit...
...and, yes, he is at the Super Bowl:
Chillin at the Super Bowl go giants!!!!!!— Tracy Morgan (@RealTracyMorgan) February 2, 2013
9:21: The first Super Bowl ad from Axe is little less sexist than what Unilever's bro unit usually has to offer on TV — and a lot more, uh, scientific:
The Spot: Pretty standard Baywatch stuff, until our bikini-clad victim ditches the lifeguard for a mop-topped young astronaut on the beach. Yes, astronauts on the beach.
The Reaction: Well, who doesn't want to go to space? A little background: Yes, Axe actually has an Apollo Space Academy, and, yes, the idea is actually to send 22 people to space. The Lynx space plane from private-spaceflight company XCOR Aerospace is actually really cool, and suborbital flights from New York to Tokyo (with a stop in, you know, space) could begin as soon as next year. Want to go? Apply here by midnight. Oh, and, yes, they're watching the Super Bowl in space right now.
9:16: Bud Light, one of the biggest sponsors of every Super Bowl, has its second Stevie Wonder spot run again in the first break from action since the big power outage... even though it ran just after the outage. A make-up spot, perhaps?
9:03: As the great Super Bowl Blackout of 2013 continues, commercial-less, the folks at Red Stripe have chimed in on that "controversial" VW spot with the Jamaican accent:
8:49: Halftime show Part 2 gets its first proper commercial break after the power outage and, perhaps fearing advertisers won't get their money's worth while America continues to go to the bathroom/watch repeats of the Puppy Bowl, CBS cuts to a house-ad promo for 2 Broke Girls and a reminder that David Spade is still paid to be on television.
8:42: Bud Light continues to take over New Orleans with its Voodoo Stevie Wonder thing, now featuring Zoe Saldana. (Is anyone watching these commercials during the power outage? Or did America just collectively go to the bathroom?)
8:34: E-Trade babies, 2013 edition:
8:33: Jacoby Jones opens the second half with a Super Bowl record 109-yard kickoff return for a touchdown (28-6 Ravens!), and the Ravens D holds... and the POWER GOES OUT AT THE SUPERDOME. Well what do you know? That's a pretty good excuse for CBS to cut to a commercial, isn't it? Since you can't hear or see much of anything in there. And Marvel gets a nice bit of timing with its Iron Man 3 teaser:
8:25: We take it back: This year's Clint Eastwood is Oprah, by way of Jeep, which went full-on jingoistic, in a much less weird and kind of goose-bumpy kind of way, on this joint (surprise) spot dubbed "Operation Safe Return" with the USO:
The Reaction: Nobody saw that coming, and everybody was inspired...
Here we goooooo! My favorite commercial!— Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) February 4, 2013
Really didn't see that coming RT @huffpostmedia: Oprah voices Super Bowl commercial for... Jeep— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) February 4, 2013
So, Oprah replaced Clint Eastwood in a Chrysler ad?Looking forward to her lecturing a chair next...— Daniel Drezner (@dandrezner) February 4, 2013
7:55: As San Francisco climbs to 21-6, we're going to break for Beyoncé's half-hour halftime show. (Sadly, there is no Clint Eastwood this year.) So far we're going to have to hand out a couple first-half awards, based on the online chatter:
The Most Talked-About: GoDaddy's "The Kiss," starring Bar Refaeli and this guy.
The Worst: That Coke ad turned out not to be offensive so much as it was unimpressive.
(Scroll down for the best of the rest, and we'll see you post-Bey.)
7:50: Baltimore goes up 21-3, and Lincoln follows with a (pretty standard) ad. Just wait for the Jimmy Fallon crowdsourced version coming in the second half...
7:46: The jerk Chris Culliver doesn't get called for pass interference, and here comes Taco Bell with a Spanish-language version of .fun's "We Are Young," featuring a big night out from the retirement home:
The Reaction: A lot of people online and at my party are calling this the best ad of the game so far. Also, too:
RT @jimgeraghty: Kudos to Taco Bell for spotlighting the growing problem of senior deliquency.— Daniel Drezner (@dandrezner) February 4, 2013
7:41: So Coca-Cola's "Mirage" spot was actually the most controversial of the Super Bowl ads heading into the Super Bowl. It asks users to choose who wins the "Coke Chase" in its desert commercial that features a face off of three groups... but not the group of camels led by an Arab man who starts off the "chase" spot by... actually spotting the giant Coke bottle in the mirage. And despite weeks of blowback from the Arab-American community, CBS decided to let it air:
The Spot: This man, leading a group of camels through the desert...
...gets his mirage ruined by a band of cowboys (there is a Latin-looking guy, though? And he gets shot in the face?), a couple of "badlanders" (you can ride ATVs on sand?), and a bus full of go-go dancers (sweating!). The Arab guy doesn't even make it as fara as the choose-your-own-adventure ending climax to be. And it's all the camel's fault, apparently:
The Reaction: Well it looks like the "You Decide the Ending" site still doesn't have "Guys with Camels" as a potential winner other than Cowboys, Showgirls, and Badlanders — an absence that's been noted around the web, especially on the Coca-Cola Facebook page:
So much for adding back the camel guy under pressure. We'll learn the "winner" of this chase later in the game.
7:36: After Baltimore blows the fake field goal, Volkswagen may win the 2013 Great Timing Award. Seems like a lot of people (at least at this Party) are talking over the "Get Happy" ad that was the most controversially controversial commercial leading into the game. Are the Jamaican accents really so offensive? Or is everyone overreacting a bit much here? Well, the strange Office Space-style thing has arrived on Super Sunday, and the verdict is...
The Spot: Monday morning. White American guy in the office elevator says, in a Jamaican accent, "No worries, man. Everything will be alright. Ya mon!" Monday mid-morning. White American guy at the vending machine says, in a Jamaican accent, "Don't fret, me brother. Sticky bun come soon." Monday midday. White American guy in the kitchen says, in a Jamaican accent, "Yeah! Wicked coffee, Mr. Jim." Monday afternoon. White American guy at the desk says, in a Jamaican accent, "Julia, turn the frown the other way around." White American guy turns out to be from Minnesota. White American guy wants people to cheer up, takes them for a ride in a VW, and they get Jamaican accents, too.
The Reaction: Literally no one at my party heard the accent. But the web was listening:
7:27: The Rock makes his second appearance of the second quarter, this time for, uh, milk?
7:26: Star Trek.
The Reaction: We'll let the nerds handle this one...
Party goes silent for Star Trek trailer.— Stephanie Haberman (@StephLauren) February 4, 2013
Real coming out year for geeks, what with GoDaddy and a Star Trek ad.— emptywheel (@emptywheel) February 4, 2013
I just bought tickets to a Star Trek sneak preview 3 months from now so yes, I am very interested in the Super Bowl— Brian Feldman (@BAFeldman) February 3, 2013
Inception moments of the Super Bowl: World War Z, game opener, Star Trek— Stacy Lambe (@sllambe) February 4, 2013
Twerk so hard a Star Trek nerd mumbles "eyes in the dark… one moon circles" until he explodes.— Mobutu Sese Seko (@Mobute) January 29, 2013
7:23: More from GoDaddy, whose Bar Refaeli ad is lighting up the Twitter machine...
7:22: Here's the Bud Light guy stealing grass from the Super Bowl and making his way through New Orleans, into a secret lair with... Stevie Wonder! Voodoo stuff, man. Voodoo.
The Reaction: "That was very odd." —Huge Stevie Wonder ad sitting next to me.
The More Important Reaction: "Just wait for the baby Clydsdale, man." —Me
7:14: Nobody tell the jerk Chris Culliver, but Calvin Klein sure seems to be appealing to the crowd that enjoys looking at half-naked men.
The Spot: That's super-male-model Matthew Terry, and, yes, he is in shape.
The Reaction: "So hard. I meant his body, not me." —Guy sitting over there at the party.
The More Important Reaction: From outspoken Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, who's been enmeshed in the whole anti-gay 49ers controversy...
And yes, the Calvin Klein one objectified men just as much as GoDaddy did women. I guess we're equal now? Hooray?— Chris Kluwe (@ChrisWarcraft) February 4, 2013
7:13: After a Niners fumble (!), Doritos keeps brining the heat with a really cute little girl, some more bearded guys, and, well, the cycle of Honey Boo Boo come full circle"
7:07: Even though 12 million people watched it on YouTube before the game, the world now has 100 million more eyes on the "Wish Granted" campaign from Toyota, which was the "pre-game winner" thanks to its teaser featuring Kaley Cuoco, an 18-year-old song by Skee Lo, and an overweight Easter Bunny. Because apparently people actually watch The Big Bang Theory? Anyway, here's the whole thing:
The Spot: Cuoco plays the "RAV4 genie," purple fairy smoke and all. There are talking squirrels. There is a chocolate IV, which sounds like something Lance Armstrong may have actually endured. There is the car flying in suborbital space, which is actually pretty cool. And then there are lots of witches and more Skee Lo, which, okay, is this really the "winner" of the Super Bowl?
The Reaction: According to the #WishGranted hashtag, on both Twitter and Instragram, there is one very lucky Toyota fan out there....
7:05: There's Fast and Furious 6 now?
The Spot: Driving, trip wires, sideways driving, lots of the Rock, some Vin Diesel occasional woman. Tank. Ludacris.
The Reaction: "I need more Vin in my life." —Guy bringing me another beer just now.
6:58: Cream-vs.-Crunch for the 100th anniversary of Oreo includes not just a whispering librarian breaking up a fight but a whispering cop talking into a megaphone.
The Reaction: Oreo appears to have paid for many of the sponsored tweets tonight, and it's coordinated Instagram plan seems to be working well:
6:57: After bringing the train with an extended look at The Lone Ranger, Disney brings the Franco with a new trailer for Oz the Great and Powerful.
6:55: Amy Poehler arrives in the much anticipated (but jut barely teased) Best Buy ad. Highlights include: "What the heck's the difference?" "What's LTE? Is it contagious?" "Can I use a dongle with this? Does it make you uncomfortable when I use the word dongle?" "Are we in the cloud? What is the cloud?
The Reaction: Very, very strong. Maybe the strongest yet?
Can Amy Poehler star in everything, always? #Dongl— Jarett Wieselman (@JarettSays) February 3, 2013
6:54: Pepsi goes for the old parents-at-the-party trick:
6:47: The NFL promises to make families less afraid of their little kids ending up with brain damage some day.
6:46: Goat vs. Hipster Guy in new Doritos ad. Goat wins.
6:45: The Bar Refaeli make-out has arrived with Go Daddy's annual hot-lady entry on Super Sunday. Here's more about that lucky guy.
6:44: Hyundai's "Team" ad:
6:43: The first truly big post-kickoff ad comes from Audi, which let users choose from three different endings for its "Prom" campaign. In the end, of course, "Bravery" won because, well, that's the tag line for the S6:
The Spot: Stag gets keys from dad, steals principal's parking spot, kisses prom queen, gets shiner from prom king. You've heard this one before. You might not have heard that song, the awesome Hanni El Khatib's "Can’t Win Em All," which is off his new Dan Auerbach-produced album and which you can download right here.
6:42: It's not quite the introduction of Ms. Brown from last year, but in the spot from M&Ms (the Mars candy conglomerate), Mr. Red will do anything for love:
6:41: After a Ravens score (7-0!) the first big first-quarter break goes to Budweiser, whose new Black Crown is like Bud Platinum in that it's got 6 percent alcohol by volume, except it's more, well, sexy?
The Reaction: If the large, beer-drinking men jumping around on the couch next to me are any indiction, well, the reaction is a strong as the brew.
6:30: The first big pre-kickoff ad comes from Hyundai and its "Epic Playdate" spot, featuring a very cool new song from The Flaming Lips that leaked before the game...
The Spot: Family. Tour bus. Saber-toothed tiger.
The Reaction: Real America asks: Who's Wayne Coyne? Indie America asks: Why are The Flaming Lips selling out?
6:25: The Walking Dead with Brad Pitt, also known as World War Z, has its (much delayed) trailer debut before a (much bigger) national audience:
The Spot: Lots of scared children, lots of zombies.
The Reaction: "Well that's gonna be badass." —Guy playing drinking game on the other side of this here party I'm at.
6:16: Couple of make-up ads there — including our first look at Beyoncé tonight — seemed to be targeted at the female audience, but fans are still worried about one man's make-up:
Someone needs to tell Ray Lewis he has too much eye makeup on. ~ @andrewandrew— papermag.com (@papermagazine) February 3, 2013
6:15: Hut! Pizza Hut. Hut hut. Hut. This one's old, but Pizza Hut has been a major presence in the pre-game:
6:06: In one of several spots tonight, Hyundai introduces you to the coolest parents ever:
5:58: "Justice is what I seek, Kimosabe." We'd seen Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer in The Lone Ranger, but Disney's big blockbuster now comes with trains, guns, and more:
The Spot: Yes, there was a bird...
Johnny Depp has the same bird on his head in The Lone Ranger that PJ Harvey had on her last tour.— Sarah Jaffe (@sarahljaffe) February 3, 2013
The Reaction: Not so much?
Hard to imagine anything worse than seeing The Lone Ranger— Jim Newell (@jim_newell) February 3, 2013
5:51: This one's been out there for a week, but beware Bigfoot — he will still your Wheat Thins:
5:45: We're settling in with a beer here as the official CBS pre-game show (you know, after the last several hours of yada-yada-ing) welcomes in the high-profile ads in earnest (it's been a lot of teasers and Boomer Esiason eating Pizza Hut so far). As we mentioned, a lot of ads or at least those teasers are online already. To catch you up, check out six of our early favorites, the "racist" Coke ad, the banned anti-Coke ad, the one with the Jamaican accent, the Kate Upton thing, and the kid making out with Bar Refaeli. Oh, yeah, and Mayor Bloomberg's NRA attack ad. The folks over at Ad Age also have a nice preview of when each big ad is airing throughout the game.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.