This year I opted to skip the Super Bowl. As a former Coloradan, recent Tennessean and University of Tennessee alumna, I know I should have been glued to the set cheering on Peyton and the Broncos (Go Big Orange!) Based on  social media check-ins and score updates from my husband, I’m glad I chose to DVR it instead. It sounded like a painful 4 hours – for football fans and advertisers, alike.

Instead, I watched ‘Captain Phillips’  (good movie, if you’re looking for a rental) and followed it with a commercial play back.

I grabbed a notebook and sat on the sofa jotting down notes. The first thing I noted? Corporate America’s solution to achieving advertising greatness is apparently throwing a bunch of money at celebrities. Right out of the gate, I was like “James Franco what were you thinking?” Celebrities were crawling out of the woodwork: Bruce Willis’ PSA-style spot for Honda, Sarah McLachlan sold out for Audi, Scarlett Johansson added sex appeal to Soda Stream, Stephen Colbert hocked Pistachios, Ellen became a modern-day Goldilocks for Beats Music and AT&T, Laurence Fishburne’s ‘Morpheus’ character sang Kia’s praise and the list goes on.

I kept waiting for something to break through. I wanted something to rival Clint Eastwood’s ‘Halftime in America,’ Chrysler’s  ‘Imported from Detroit,’ or Ram’s ‘Farmer.’ Budweiser is generally guaranteed to please, but ‘A Hero’s Welcome’ and even ‘Puppy Love,’ (one of my favorites of the night) fell a little flat.

What Made Me Pause

Fox’s teasers for the return of ‘24’ caught my attention. So did the Transformers: Age of Distinction trailer – but only because I couldn’t believe they got rid of Shia LaBeouf! Weather Tech floormats took the rules for what’s expectated of a Super Bowl commercial and K.I.S.S.ed them goodbye. Keep it simple stupid – nice.

The Super Bowl premiere of the GoldieBlox commercial was something I had been anticipating all week. When I saw it, I immediately grabbed my iPhone and started Googling – I couldn’t find anything confirming whether or not the company was going to have another lawsuit on their hands with Quiet Riot. I later came across an article stating Intuit paid for the license to the song. (You know you all were wondering the same thing.)

Something else I noticed this year was the abundance of local ads. Has this always been the case, or did I just never notice? At one point, I even started to wonder whether large corporations could pull ads based on game performance.

I Wanted to Like Them

I oh so wanted to like Chrysler’s ‘America’s Import’ featuring Bob Dylan. I love Bob Dylan. I love a good narrative. But this just wasn’t Eminem’s ‘Imported from Detroit.’ And, as my husband pointed out, I’m sure Budweiser appreciated the implication that America cannot make superior beer.

Dannon Oikos’ ‘The Spill’ had potential. Why didn’t they just end it 17 seconds in? The mischievous look on that woman’s face was enough to end the spot on a high note.

Super Bowl 2014 Top Ten List

10. Hyundai, Dad’s Sixth Sense

9. Coke, ‘It’s Beautiful’

8. Microsoft, ‘Empowering’

7. Cheerios, ‘Gracie’

6. Coca-Cola, ‘All the Way’

5. Volkswagon, ‘Wings’

4. Budweiser, ‘Puppy Love’

3. Radio Shack, The Phone Call’

2. TurboTax, ‘Love Hurts’

1. Esurance

I have to admit that I saw Adweek post an article on Facebook about the “first ad bought after the Super Bowl.” I didn’t read the article, but made a note to look for an ad post game. I’m glad I didn’t turn off the DVR because this ad topped my list.

I scribbled in my notebook, ‘SMART COMMERCIAL.’ The commercial IS the brand message – SMART. The use of a celebrity, John Krasinski (their voiceover talent since 2012) on camera – SMART. The use of humor – SMART. The media buy in and of itself – SMART.