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'Meaningful' Ads Stood Out As Super Bowl Favorites

The Super Bowl XLVII TV ads told viewers they love animals, laughs and America.

One winner trotted to first place. Budweiser's Clydesdale horses and their "Brotherhood" commercial won over viewers and critics even though it took on a more somber tone than Taco Bell's wildly popular "Viva Young" spot. The beer maker's commercial topped USA Today's Ad Meter.

This year, brands wanted "something meaningful to flicker across the screen," says Tim Nudd, senior editor at Adweek.

Another ad that created a buzz was Dodge Ram's homage to America's farmers. (In a post on The Salt, NPR's Maria Godoy wonders how accurately it represents modern agriculture.)

Nudd writes in his Adweek post that the spot "was the most evocative and visually rich of the evening, thanks to Paul Harvey's spellbinding 'God Made a Farmer' recording and the gorgeous work of 10 great photographers..."

But humorous ads were still appreciated. New York Times readers decided the funniest spot was Volkswagen's "Get In. Get Happy" — an ad that The Wall Street Journal criticized as "off-putting." The Times said:

"A dialect joke — the no-worries Jamaican accent emerges from the mouth of a Minnesotan — is at the heart of this commercial. It drew lots of attention before the game, but many people said last week they believed the jest was good-natured and sweet rather than culturally or racially insensitive."

And when the lights went off in the Superdome, companies churned their creative juices and quickly took to social media. Oreo tweeted a picture saying "you can still dunk in the dark."

Others also jumped on social media, but to protest "sexist commercials in real time." The nonprofit campaign Miss Representation was behind the move, noting:

"... It's not just about calling out the hypersexualization and objectification of women in these ads, but also realizing that there is also a very limiting ideal of manhood on display in most Super Bowl commercials."

Twitter users, like @annmanderson, deemed Go Daddy's commercial a "stomach turner."

With the "farmers" ad getting top nods, will contemplative commercials become a trend on Super Bowl Sunday? Probably not.

Nudd says companies are still going to fill their ads with comedy and "blockbuster spectacles," since they play well during one of the biggest televised events. (According to the The Washington Post, Nielsen says this year's game was the most viewed Super Bowl yet — 48 percent of TV owners tuned in, excluding the blackout).

More on the Super Bowl ads:

-- 'God Made A Farmer' And The Super Bowl Made Him A Star

-- Wacky Super Bowl Ads Are Already Getting Serious Play

-- Gun-Control Battle Spills Over To Super Bowl Ads

-- For Super Bowl Ads, More Social-Media Savvy

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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