The New England Patriots won the game, but the NFL won the night.
The National Football League finished first in USA TODAY’s Ad Meter, a ranking of Super Bowl ads by consumer rating.
That’s a first for the NFL, which finished second in last year’s Ad Meter for a Dirty Dancing parody starring Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. Amazon, which won last year’s crown, finished second this time, in both cases for ads featuring Alexa and a bevy of celebrities.
The league’s two-minute ode to itself on Sunday’s telecast was a tour de force starring an assemblage of many of the greats of NFL history, including Eli’s brother Peyton.
The ad begins at a black-tie dinner to celebrate the league’s upcoming 100th season and quickly devolves into a banquet-hall brawl when a golden football from atop a many-tiered cake falls off and hits the floor. Soon the all-pro cast — connecting six generations of NFL players past and present — is throwing and catching and intercepting and recovering the hot-potato football.
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“I feel honored to help ring in the NFL’s centennial season with a piece of creative that brings to life the passion, energy and storied history of football,” director Peter Berg said in a statement. “In fact, it’s one of the coolest things I’ve done in my career.”
That’s a career that includes “Friday Night Lights” — and another ad in Sunday’s game. Berg’s emotional commercial for Verizon, in which Los Angeles Chargers coach Anthony Lynn meets the first responders who saved his life when he was struck by a speeding vehicle in 2005, finished fifth in Ad Meter voting.
Microsoft came in third for a heart-tugging ad about its Xbox Adaptive Controller for kids with limited mobility who play video games. And Hyundai finished fourth for an ad starring Jason Bateman as an elevator operator to all the places none of us want to go.
The NFL’s ad, called “The 100-Year Game,” included players from today, such as Tom Brady, and yesterday, such as Jim Brown. It also included female youth football player Sam Gordon, sportscaster Beth Mowins, Fortnite gamer Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, and Sarah Thomas, the NFL’s first female official.
“It was important to us that the spot was inclusive and emblematic of football’s expansive influence on American culture,” Tim Ellis said in a statement. He is the NFL’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer.
“As we approach our centennial season,” he said, “we’re not just embracing football’s rich heritage but also looking toward the next 100 years.”
Ad Meter’s results are based on voting by tens of thousands of registered participants. In its 31st year, Bud and Bud Light have won Ad Meter 14 times.