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Budweiser, Snickers win in high-stakes Super Bowl ad battle

02/01/2015 | 08:30pm US/Eastern

Snickers generated laughs with a nostalgic nod to "The Brady Bunch" and Budweiser capitalized on cuteness with the return of a puppy as advertisers risked big bucks to stand out in the hard-fought battle to win buzz for their Super Bowl commercials.

Brands paid up to a record $4.5 million for 30 seconds during the championship game between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks on Comcast Corp's (>> Comcast Corporation) NBC network.

Companies employed uplifting themes - including the celebration of dads - safe humor, and stories that tugged at emotions in their bids to grab attention among more than 70 commercials.

Mars Chocolate Snickers scored with its spot featuring Marcia Brady transformed into angry action movie star Danny Trejo, part of the company's "You're Not You When You're Hungry" campaign.

"I think Snickers is a home run," said Jay Russell, chief creative officer at advertising agency GSD&M. "It stood out. It's simple and quick."

Many brands posted their commercials or shorter teasers on the Internet ahead of the game to stoke interest. The ads were viewed more than 170 million times before kickoff, according to iSpot, which tracks video views and social media comments.

Budweiser ranked far ahead in the pre-game contest for buzz, iSpot rankings showed.

The beer maker owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev (>> ANHEUSER-BUSCH INBEV) reprised last year's winning formula with another appearance by a puppy and his Clydesdale friends. This time, the horses help a lost puppy fend off wolves and find his way home. That ad was watched nearly 42 million times ahead of the game, iSpot said.

Reality TV star Kim Kardashian won notice in a T-Mobile (>> T-Mobile Us Inc) spot for mocking her own celebrity, deadpanning about the "tragic" practice by some wireless carriers that take back unused data that could have been used to view more photos of her.

Unilever's (>> Unilever plc) Dove Men+Care was one of at least three companies to celebrate fatherhood, showing doting dads rushing to help an upset child or dancing at a daughter's wedding.

General Motors' (>> General Motors Company) Chevy brand grabbed attention with an ad that made it look like the TV flickered off, fooling some viewers who reacted on social media, and promoting wi-fi access in its Colorado truck as a backup plan for watching the game.

Web services company GoDaddy's commercial focused on a guy who was missing the game because he was working, the type of business owner GoDaddy serves. The company scrapped an earlier spot following an outcry from animal lovers who said it seemed to advocate puppy mills.

A separate ad battle raged on social media sites such as Facebook (>> Facebook Inc) and Twitter (>> Twitter Inc).

McDonalds (>> McDonald's Corporation) told people to follow their Twitter feed during each commercial break. The fast food restaurant chain commented on every commercial, encouraging people to re-tweet to win a promotion around the commercial.

"Lovin' Clydesdales & puppies & wolves, oh my, @Budweiser. RT to try & win a trip with your best bud, up to 500 miles," McDonald's wrote.

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine in Los Angeles and Jennifer Saba in New York; Editing by Sandra Maler)

By Lisa Richwine and Jennifer Saba

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