The Super Bowl XLVII TV ads told viewers they love animals, laughs and America.
One winner trotted to first place. Budweiser's Clydesdale horses and their "Brotherhood" commercial won over viewers and critics even though it took on a more somber tone than Taco Bell's wildly popular "Viva Young" spot. The beer maker's commercial topped USA Today's Ad Meter.
This year, brands wanted "something meaningful to flicker across the screen," says Tim Nudd, senior editor at Adweek.
Another ad that created a buzz was Dodge Ram's homage to America's farmers. (In a post on The Salt, NPR's Maria Godoy wonders how accurately it represents modern agriculture.)
Nudd writes in his Adweek post that the spot "was the most evocative and visually rich of the evening, thanks to Paul Harvey's spellbinding 'God Made a Farmer' recording and the gorgeous work of 10 great photographers..."
But humorous ads were still appreciated. New York Times readers decided the funniest spot was Volkswagen's "Get In. Get Happy" — an ad that The Wall Street Journal's Christopher John Farley criticized as "off-putting." The Times' Stuart Elliott said:
"A dialect joke — the no-worries Jamaican accent emerges from the mouth of a Minnesotan — is at the heart of this commercial. It drew lots of attention before the game, but many people said last week they believed the jest was good-natured and sweet rather than culturally or racially insensitive."
Others also jumped on social media, but to protest "sexist commercials in real time." The nonprofit campaign Miss Representation was behind the move, noting:
"... It's not just about calling out the hypersexualization and objectification of women in these ads, but also realizing that there is also a very limiting ideal of manhood on display in most Super Bowl commercials."
With the "farmers" ad getting top nods, will contemplative commercials become a trend on Super Bowl Sunday? Probably not.
Nudd says companies are still going to fill their ads with comedy and "blockbuster spectacles," since they play well during one of the biggest televised events.
Update at 4:35 p.m. ET Not The Most Viewed Super Bowl
The AP reports the Nielsen Co. said the TV event came in as third for most-watched program in U.S. history — Nielsen estimated about 108.4 million people watched Sunday's game. Earlier we cited preliminary viewership data saying that it was the most watched Super Bowl.
More on the Super Bowl ads: