Super Bowl XLVIII went to the dogs.
Not only was the blowout of a game itself a dog, but some of the most memorable TV commercials starred pups.
It's not unusual for advertisers to turn to animals for their super-expensive spots during the national holiday that the Super Bowl has become (Fox charged $4 million for a 30-second ad this year). Viewers have seen plenty of dogs before and monkeys and, of course, the Budweiser Clydesdales.
But this year dogs seemed to be in particularly high demand. A dog even stole the show away from a Clydesdale in a Budweiser spot that positioned a pup and horse as best friends who would not allow themselves to be separated.
Audi unveiled a bizarre, somewhat unnerving spot featuring a computer-generated "Doberhuahua" (it seemed to be going more for comedy than cute); dogs had co-starring roles in two different Doritos ads; and the CarMax "slow clap" spot featured an alternate online version starring dogs.
Other animals got in on the action, including a romance-minded bull in a Chevy spot, a Chobani yogurt-craving bear, a llama with Don Cheadle in a Bud Light ad and a pig pitching GEICO.
The Jerry Seinfeld Super Bowl commercial turned out to be a promo embedded in the halftime show. The New York Times' Bill Carter reported no money changed hands; Fox asked Mr. Seinfeld to come up with something. Jerry, George (Jason Alexander) and Newman (Wayne Knight) all appeared in the short -- Jerry tells George he ruined a mutual friend's Super Bowl party a few years ago with his "over-cheering" -- that also served as a promo for Mr. Seinfeld's online series, "Comedians Getting Coffee in Cars" at Crackle.com.
Other ads and trends worth noting:
Simple is best: The Met Life pre-game spot featuring the Peanuts characters gathered around the piano as Schroeder played the National Anthem was simple, sweet and quietly moving.
Trios: Not only did "Full House" co-stars Bob Saget and Dave Coulier join John Stamos in this year's Oikos Greek yogurt ad, but Jaguar introduced a spot with three British actors known for playing villains: Tom Hiddleston ("Thor," "The Avengers"), Ben Kingsley ("Ender's Game") and Mark Strong ("Low Winter Sun").
Changing state of the union: Diversity ruled in several spots, including one for Cheerios and a Coke spot featuring "American the Beautiful" sung in multiple languages. (The Coke spot, which included a family headed by gay dads, comes after some Carnegie Mellon University students and others have protested Coke's sponsorship of the Sochi Olympics because of Russia's anti-gay policies.)
Of local note: A Heinz ad featured people humming "If You're Happy and You Know It" while attempting to extract ketchup from a bottle, which seemed to play up a product defect (the bottle) without anyone attempting the time-tested trick of hitting the bottle on its neck. The upbeat spot focused on the product but ending with a grandma and a fart joke may have ruined it for some viewers (and improved it for others).
This ad's for what? Advertisers continue to sometimes get caught up in production values over simply explaining their product. That Audi Doberhuahua ad was memorable for the weird dog, but an Audi wasn't shown until the last 12 seconds. On the other hand, an ad for auto-emergency braking on the Hyundai Genesis did an excellent job of selling this new feature.
Best self-parody: Radio Shack's "The '80s called, they want their store back" featuring a deluge of 1980s-era pop culture icons, including ALF, Chucky and Hulk Hogan, was a true winner.
Best 2014 Super Bowl ad that never aired: No Newcastle Brown Ale ads aired during the game but the brand got attention for its parody of celebrity-starring Super Bowl spots. Titled ""Behind the Scenes of the Mega Huge Football Game Ad Newcastle Brown Ale Almost Made," the spot features actress Anna Kendrick who debates whether she's "beer commercial hot." She discusses how much she was looking forward to the paycheck a Super Bowl ad would bring and then storms off after deriding Newcastle for reneging on its Super Bowl ad plan. As of Sunday, the spot had more than 3.8 million views on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9g9wXBkdWEg.
TV writer Rob Owen: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-2582. Read the Tuned In Journal blog at post-gazette.com/tv. Follow RobOwenTV on Twitter or Facebook.