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Posted At: February 3, 2014 2:47 p.m.
by Morgan Daniels

Super Bowl XLVIII quickly became less about the football and more about the commercials this year faster than ever before. With the Seattle Seahawks leading the Denver Broncos from the first 12 seconds, the Twittersphere took to analyzing and critiquing every advertisement that was aired. Many hashtags were created and spread across the Internet. #BrandBowl, #RTMBowl and #AdBowl quickly emerged as the trending hashtags tracking this year’s Super Bowl advertisement highs and lows.

“Best of” commercial lists typically flood the Internet after the Super Bowl ends, but no two are the same as everyone looks for different things in a Super Bowl commercial. Some value humor, others the story line, the celebrities or the ability to connect with a character. Communication, public relations and advertising professionals look for something different: they look for the company’s ability to reach its target audience and establish or reinforce its brand.

Here is my countdown of the best Super Bowl commercials from a branding perspective.

10) T-Mobile: Still No Contract
The No. 10 spot goes to T-Mobile’s second no contract commercial featuring Tim Tebow. T-Mobile’s recent rebranding effort launched its #unleash campaign but this Super Bowl commercial really drove it home. The commercial explained and exaggerated all the freedom you have when you aren’t contractually obligated to something like a cellphone provider.

9) Puppet Master made the countdown because everyone was expecting a scantily clad Danica Patrick, but instead we got a humorous story about a real woman quitting her job to follow her dream of making puppets. I enjoyed GoDaddy’s newest approach in advertising because it explained what GoDaddy is, contrary to past commercials, and gave a real life example of someone who used to follow her dream.

8) RadioShack: The Phone Call
No. 8 goes to RadioShack and its simple yet clever commercial where classic 1980s characters storm the outdated electronic store slicing down VCR signs and tossing beepers and other old technology out of the store. This advertisment sends the clear message that RadioShack has been updated and has everything you as a customer would need.

7) Jeep: Restless
Jeep’s tagline “Built Free” drives most of its advertisements and messaging. Last year’s commercial was a salute to the military and the freedom they provide, but this year the company targeted the spirit of the American people and our need to keep moving. With active verbs and powerful visuals, Jeep captured the ideal adventure on the open road that we all yearn for and reinforced its already incredibly strong brand.

6) Dannon Oikos: The Spill 
The Dannon Oikos brand is centered around the celebrity endorsement of John Stamos. It’s a creative way to brand something as plain as greek yogurt. Although we have seen Stamos before, the Super Bowl commercial surprised us all with the guest appearances of Bob Saggat and Dave Collier for a “Full House” reunion. Dannon added an element of surprise and humor to a commercial that could have been typical and unfocused, and that is why they have been awarded the No. 6 spot.

5) Bank of America: U2 Invisible
Bank of America makes it to my top five simply because its commercial featured the bank’s partnership with the charity (RED). The commercial instructed audience members to download the featured U2 song “Invisible” for free on iTunes during the next 24 hours to have $1 donated to (RED). It stood out because of Bank of America’s selfless act. All it asked for was audience members to complete a simple task that would result in a donation to AIDS research.

4) Microsoft: Empowering
When it comes to technology commercials you can usually expect lots of flash and cool features that scream “look at me” or “buy me.” But this year Microsoft took a different route featuring all the ways its technology is changing the world. From the little boy walking on his new prosthetic legs to a deaf mother hearing her children for the first time, Microsoft showed the world that it is more than a tech company; it is changing lives. That is why its commercial gets the No. 4 spot on my countdown.

3) Wonderful Pistachios: Stephen Colbert
This commercial was the most effective of all the multiple-part commercials aired during the 2014 Super Bowl. It blew the Budlight and Ford Fusion commercials out of the water and the competition. The key to the commercial’s success was the surprise second half that addressed the concept of branding and its importance when it comes to sales. The company branded itself to an over-the-top point, then noted how silly it was, branding itself even more. Genius.

2) Budweiser: A Hero’s Welcome
Budweiser commercials are also a must-see during the Super Bowl. Usually the Clydesdale commercials are the best, but this year a simple tribute to our troops stole the spotlight. The commercial featured an Army lieutenant returning home from war, and Budweiser’s effort to make it a homecoming he would never forget. Budweiser gave the soldier a hero’s welcome, complete with a parade and residents of his hometown cheering and holding encouraging signs. This commercial makes the top two because of Budweiser’s consistent branding as an American beer and its call to action at the end to #SaluteAHero.

1) Coca-Cola: It’s Beautiful
Coke takes the No. 1 spot on my list of best branded Super Bowl commercials because its message went beyond “buy our product.” It was a celebration of America’s diversity. The advertisement features shots of Americans of all ethnicities and heritages as “America the Beautiful” is sung in different languages in the background. Coke is American, and it brands itself well by celebrating the diverse country that made it the successful company it is today.

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