Super Bowl XLVI Ads – Top Five Picks

The television broadcast of the Super Bowl is a spectacle that drastically outshines all other event programming in the year. For advertisers, the opportunity is unparalleled. Millions upon millions gather together in living rooms and bars not just to watch the game, but also to take in the new and creative commercials that are part marketing pitch and part pure entertainment. The game provides a captive and highly social audience that can carry a brand’s message to new heights. With 30 second spots costing advertisers an average of $3.5M, the stakes are high, but the payoff can be even higher.

2012 brought a slew of excellent ads that worked for several different reasons, and a few that could have done more with time in the spotlight. Here are our 5 favorites:

5. Volkswagen – “The Dog Strikes Back” Playing off of last year’s highly successful “The Force” ad featuring a pint-sized Darth Vader with Dad’s Passat, VW chose to follow an endearing ad for the 2012 New Beetle wherein a old dog gets fit so he can chase his favorite car again with a cut to the iconic Cantina where characters from Star Wars discuss the merits of Super Bowl commercials. It was an interesting bit of meta-advertising that allowed the German automaker to boast about its advertising prowess.

4. Acura – “Transactions” Star power and situational humor fueled an ad with a stunning centerpiece: the beautiful new NSX concept. Jerry Seinfeld struck just the right chords with his attempts to win the gorgeous prize from his competitor, only to have Jay Leno swing in at the last moment for a spectacular cameo. With both Leno and Seinfeld known as major gearheads, the casting and the execution of this ad were right on the money.

3. Chevrolet – “Stunt Anthem” With a montage of incredible stunts (and a little help from master music video-makers OK Go [the amazing video for their song ‘Needing/Getting’ is available here]) Chevy pulled off something very difficult: giving its new Sonic a personality. And what a personality it is! This ad won the day for being perfectly in touch with its target audience, and doing so in style. Social, collaborative and with viral elements, this may be a glimpse into the future of advertising.

2. Chrysler – Halftime in America” Tiptoeing the line with a socially delicate and somewhat politically charged message, Chrysler and the other automakers of Detroit commissioned Clint Eastwood to explain the current state of domestic industry in the U.S. The message and its presentation were quite captivating. The spot was cleverly placed at halftime of the actual game as an analogy to “halftime” concept, amplifying its effectiveness. This type of ad is sure to awaken Americans to take charge in the second half and highlight the brand behind the message.

1. M&Ms – “Just My Shell” – If pure humor is a hallmark of a great Super Bowl ad, M&Ms hit the bulls-eye with its creative introduction of ‘Ms. Brown,’ the original milk chocolate ‘spokescandy.’ Until this ad, her identity had remained a mystery, but she was billed in teasers as ‘not your average chocolate.’ It turns out there was a good reason she hadn’t revealed herself to the public.

We’d love to hear from you – what Super Bowl ads are in your top 5?