On Super Bowl Sunday, I'm not one who particularly enjoys sitting down to watch the game, but I am interested in scoping out the clever commercials.  So when a friend posted on Facebook he was looking for people to come with him to participate in the USA Today Super Bowl Research Project where we would be asked to rate all the commercials for Monday's newspaper, I didn't hesitate to say "YES!".  Not only did we get to rate the ads, but we got fed and paid for our time.  Bonus for me, I didn't even have to watch the game, so I got to read on my iPad!

When we arrived at the USA Today headquarters in McLean, Virginia, we signed in, then selected a seat in the auditorium.  The TV screen was huge!  If I were a football fan, I would have been very happy!

The market research group was nice to cater a pasta dinner for the participants, and we got to fill up on food before the game.  I was a little sad not to have gametime staples like varieties of dips and trays of assorted goodies (even missed the veggie tray), but free food is free food! At halftime, we got soft pretzels, cookies, and rice krispie treats, so not a complete loss.

Each seat was assigned a voting device, and we were asked to pay attention to and rate every commercial from kickoff until the game's end, excluding halftime, on a 7-point scale: 4 was neutral, 1 was strong dislike, and 7 was loved!  Since our opinion of the ad may vary during the 30+ sections, we were told to change our vote freely, and they would average out the responses.

For the amount of money advertisers spend for 30 seconds of airtime during the Superbowl game itself - not halftime, pre-, or post-game - it amazes me how many companies miss the mark with their ads.  Listening to the reactions of the people in the room, everyone loves a funny commercial - especially one that has a twist, a surprise, or a prank that's not too disgusting.  Based on the voting tally, in addition to funny, if you stick a dog in as the star of the commercial, that automatically boosts the rating as well!  I think the clear winner for the night was Doritos, with the "Man's Best Friend" commercial (dog buries cat and bribes the witness to the crime with a bag of Doritos).  I also enjoyed the french bulldog on the greyhound track winning with his Sketchers sneakers.

Doritos: "Man's Best Friend"
Sketchers: "Go Run" (Mr. Quiggly)
Biggest loser awards all went to the sexy ads:  GoDaddy needs to just go away and David Beckham in his H&M underwear is not appropriate for the Super Bowl.

Honorable Mention goes to Samsung Mobile for reminding me of a really fun song: "I believe in a thing called love" by The Darkness.  You know I rocked out to that one the way home!