The best and worst commercials of the 2013 Super Bowl

February 4, 2013

THE BEST

Which advertiser won the laughs and viewers in between the action on the field? Watch the Super Bowl’s best commercials this year below. Did we miss one you liked? Tell us in the comments.

Taco Bell: When some octogenarians bust out of their retirement home, they get into all kinds of teenage trouble: Regrettable tattoos, public displays of affection, breaking and entering, pyrotechnics, and finally, some late night Taco Bell. The directors found some great character actors — especially that guy who presses his nipple against the restaurant window — and a cool Spanish rendition of “We Are Young,” by the band fun.

Samsung: Funnymen Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd are both called in to Samsung HQ for a meeting about their “Next Big Thing” ads — but they’re battling each other over who truly deserves the gig. Rudd gets some of the best lines against Rogen: “I’ve never seen you so excited about something that isn’t food.” “Are you sure you aren’t here to see a guy named Sam Sung?” But then the commercial takes another meta turn, skewering the other commercials that have come before it, as Rudd and Rogen pitch ideas: Talking babies (E-trade), Asian rappers (Wonderful Pistachios) and sending a guy into the galaxy (Axe). Other cameos include Bob Odenkirk and LeBron James.

Best Buy:  Amy Poehler, shopping for electronics, has many questions for a helpful young Best Buy employee. Questions like, “What’s LTE, is it contagious?” “Can I use a dongle with this?” “Does it make you uncomfortable when I use the word dongle?” Amy Poehler is a goddess. P.S.: The definition of “dongle,” in case you were wondering.

Budweiser: Not everyone will agree. But this heartwarming commercial about a man who reunites with the Budweiser Clydesdale he raised from infancy tugged at the heartstrings of viewers. Many Twitter users said it brought tears to their eyes. It goes to show that dogs aren’t man’s only best friends.

Tide: It probably wasn’t a favorite commercial in San Francisco, but it played well elsewhere. A 49ers fan finds a miracle Joe Montana stain on his jersey, and considers it to be a religious experience and good omen for the game… until his wife, a Ravens fan, uses Tide to wash it. It was perfect for the Super Bowl, with a tone that was, er, spot-on.

Bonus:
Mercedes-Benz: Another flashy big-name celeb commercial — this time starring Willem Dafoe, Kate Upton and Usher — it’s a clever spot about a man who considers selling his soul to the devil for a car, but he realizes that he doesn’t have to. He can afford it.

THE WORST

These advertisers lost big, ticking off viewers with sexist or unfunny commercials. Watch the worst commercials of this year’s Super Bowl below. Disagree with our choices? Let us know in the comments.

Go Daddy: This commercial objectifies women and makes fun of unattractive people. Just another day at the Go Daddy marketing headquarters! As spokesperson Danica Patrick explains, GoDaddy is both sexy (represented by model and Leonardo DiCaprio ex Bar Rafaeli) and smart (represented by some nerd named Walter). They kiss. A lot. It makes sloppy wet noises, intended to gross you out.

Go Daddy: First impression: “Can it be? A Go Daddy ad without bikini-clad babes?” But look further and you’ll see that this ad is just as sexist as the rest of the company’s offerings. Wives around the world are harping on their husbands for not putting their big idea online. Why are the women all so angry? Why are the men the only ones allowed to have great ideas?

Doritos: A little girl wants her dad to play with her, but he is about to go hang out with the guys. But when he sees that she has Doritos, he changes his tune. Before you know it, he’s wearing makeup and a dress. The implication that a dad doesn’t want to spend time with his daughter unless she bribes him with Doritos is not very nice.

Volkswagen: This commercial, released early, has been controversial all week. An average white guy’s Volkswagen makes him happy — so happy that he speaks with a Jamaican accent. “You know what dis room needs? A smile,” says the man. “Who wanna come wit I?” Though VW’s chief marketing officer said the commercial checked out just fine with actual Jamaicans, many people wondered if it was racist. And when the conversation about your company becomes more about racism than your product, you have an ineffective commercial.

Gildan: After a crazy one-night stand involving fuzzy handcuffs, a dude tries to escape without waking the woman he hooked up with … except she’s wearing his favorite t-shirt, and he needs to find a way to get it off of her. The notion that a guy needs to sneak away to escape a woman he slept with, and the implication that she is crazy or promiscuous because of the handcuffs…. no, Gildan, no.

Bonus:
Century 21: Though a few of them aired before the actual game, every single one of the ads that Century 21 prepared for the Super Bowl comes across tone deaf at best, and mean at worst. Whether it’s a woman so preoccupied with her new wealth that she doesn’t notice that her husband is choking, a wife in labor who demands a new kitchen, or a mother-in-law so fearsome that a groom faints at the altar at the thought of living with her, women are not portrayed well in three out of the four Century 21 spots. And that dad is a jerk to his son, too.



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Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts for the Weekend section and Going Out Guide.
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Cindy Boren · February 4, 2013

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