Budweiser's "Puppy Love" Super Bowl commercial, a fan favorite.

Budweiser's "Puppy Love" Super Bowl commercial, a fan favorite. Credit: Budweiser via YouTube

Jerry Seinfeld won the Super Bowl. But it was seriously close: He almost got beat by a puppy. But choices have to be made, and at deadline, the pup comes in second.

A great Super Bowl for ads? Not great but reasonably good, with only a few ads that were far off the mark, even fewer that assaulted sensibilities and stomachs. That in itself is an accomplishment. This was the year of the tease (Seinfeld) and the year where fewer ads were pre-released in the hopes that viewers would pay closer attention, or at least be surprised.

As always, there were plenty that were less than memorable, or totally forgettable, and one or two that will live on through the ages, or at least as long as the Internet is around.

The best:

1. Seinfeld Reunion/Crackle: That old tease, Jerry Seinfeld, told listeners of WFAN last week that his "Seinfeld" reunion wasn't a Super Bowl commercial, then amended that by saying it was "not not" one either. The dead giveaway there. But as it appeared Sunday night, at Tom's Restaurant, with Jerry and George and Newman supplying the kicker, this was the Super Bowl ad we all live for -- a fun, well-executed, surprise that made us (me) miss "Seinfeld" all over again. Plus, his "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" is worth the plug.

2. Budweiser: Puppy Love: Little to do with beer but everything to do with puppy love, and love of horses, and love of country, and love . . . running out of "loves" here, but this one was smothered in them, and effectively so. Plus, I loved it.

3. Audi's "Dober-hua-hua": Some people on Monday will argue that this was the best ad of the night, and I won't argue with them. (Except: See above.) Funny, silly and absolutely no doberhuahuas were injured in the making of this ad. Best part: When the critter eats up Sarah McLachlan's guitar.

4. Wonderful Pistachios: This one, starring Stephen Colbert and mascot, scored in part because of the way it was split -- 15 seconds, then another one in the middle, then the kicker at the end.

5. Cheerios: Direct. Easy. Hopeful. Told a story in a way that made you (again, me, sorry) immediately engaged. What I liked about this ad and another one, which was the Budweiser/Lt. Chuck Nadd one, was the sense of optimism they both conveyed. Nothing sold, just emotion, which is what good advertising is about. Can I call this a tie?

VOTE: Best Super Bowl XLVIII ad

The worst:

1. Maserati Ghibli: Oh, man, this would've been a great ad if it were an ad for a new Cormac McCarthy novel, or maybe a promotion for the Weather Channel, or for existentialism -- which could use a commercial. But Quvenzhané Wallis ("Beasts of the Southern Wild") selling a car no one can afford, or want to drive -- assuming they could after watching this?

2. Jeep Cherokee: Speaking of balderdash, this one -- "Run, act, find, dare. . . . How you get there is why we made the new Cherokee." No it isn't -- you made it to create a silly, confusing, pretentious ad that would be even more silly and pretentious than the Maserati one.

3. Bud Light: With Arnold Schwarzenegger, no less. Actually, make that less. Remarkably, the prerelease of this commercial was terrific -- nearly a 4-minute mini-movie with plenty of sight gags (Don Cheadle, the llama, Minka Kelly) that worked perfectly. But the ads, when split off from the main, were just dumb. A waste of a great idea.

4. Radio Shack: Why bother? Really? This storied brand spends 30 or however many seconds reminding viewers why they don't go to Radio Shack anymore, only to tell to "come see what's possible . . ." Come see what's possible? Seriously?

5. Car Max: Clap, clap. Didn't the clap, as far as ads are concerned, go out in the last century? This one did feature one of the favorite animals of the Super Bowl XLVIII ad parade, however -- the bear. Feel sorry for the bear.

VOTE: Worst Super Bowl XLVIII ad

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