Budweiser 'Lost Dog' finds way to top of Super Bowl Ad Meter
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The Budweiser puppy has done what the Seattle Seahawks could not — it won back-to-back Super Bowls.
If you're keeping score, not only is that two in a row for the puppy, but three in a row for Anheuser-Busch and the 13th time in the past 15 years that Anheuser-Busch has won USA TODAY's Ad Meter ranking of all the ads by a consumer panel.
For the 27th consecutive year, USA TODAY'S Ad Meter's consumer panel of 6,703 voters rated the Super Bowl ads — 61 commercials that cost advertisers up to a record $4.5 million per 30-seconds of airtime.
Finishing second was a stereotype-bashing spot for an unlikely Super Bowl advertiser, the Always feminine products brand from P&G. It aimed to make viewers rethink what it means to act "like a girl."
VIEW ALL THE ADS: All the Super Bowl ads, Ad Meter rankings
Third, was a humorous Fiat Chrysler commercial about an amorous, elderly Italian man who loses his iconic, blue Viagra-like pill at just the wrong moment.
In the Budweiser "Lost Dog" ad, a puppy gets lost, but makes it back home after being saved from a wolf by his pals, the Budweiser Clydesdales.
Yes, it was a sequel to the "Puppy Love" commercial that won last year's Ad Meter and Bud used the same strategy to build buzz. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," says Brian Perkins, vice president, Budweiser. He says the company again released teaser content weeks in advance and then unveiled the ad itself last Wednesday.
It was a heart-tugger, says Ad Meter panelist Kelly VonDrehle. "I have my own little dog, and seeing the Clydesdales save that sweet, precious little angel brought a slight tear to my eye," says VonDrehle, 30, who works in marketing communications at Texas A&M University in College Station.
Overall, the advertising came up a bit short on energy, and on the entertainment that viewers have come to expect from brands spending the big bucks to appear on the biggest live stage in advertising — the NBC broadcast was expected to be watched by about 110 million viewers in the USA.
BALLOT BREAKDOWN: The demographics of how people voted in Ad Meter
It was first and foremost the Super Bowl of commercial kumbaya. Many of the spots were the commercial equivalent of hug. McDonald's literally showed hugs in its ad promising free food to random customers who bestow acts of kindness. Coca-Cola showed how snarkiness and hate on the Internet turns positive and happy thanks to a bottle of Coke.
It also was the Nostalgia Bowl. There's Snickers paying homage to The Brady Bunch. There's Bud Light literally bringing Pac Man to life. And BMW brought back the early days of the Internet with help of Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel.
These advertisers apparently saw the times now right for optimism, fun, even silliness.
But not sex. This was a PG-rated Super Bowl, Arguably, there wasn't a national ad too racy for kids' eyes or tasteless for grandma's ears.
In fact, several of the spots were downright inspirational. Toyota lauded paralympic snowboarder Amy Purdy with an uplifting speech by a young Muhammad Ali. The voice of John F. Kennedy talks of humanity's connection to the sea in a stylistic spot for Carnival cruises.
But amid the sea of happiness and hope, some cleverly-crafted humor kicked butt with traditional Super Bowl entertainment. Doritos ad, about a savvy kid who earns a bag of Doritos by actually figuring how to make pigs fly.
Advertising stereotypes died hard in this Super Bowl — particularly those about dad as a clueless clod. Just months after the NFL's image was severely tarnished by domestic abuse incidents involving players, several advertisers opted to show Dads in a good light. Nissan spent 90 seconds on the tale of a race car driver balancing work and family — all to the tune of Harry Chapin's Cat's in the Cradle. And Dove Men+Care's spot showed dads of all kinds responding to the oh-so-familiar cry from their kids of "Daddy!"