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The best and worst Super Bowl commercials

Who won the Super Bowl game?

Local marketing agency Letter23 doesn't care, but a judging panel of employees will tell you which commercial they liked best.

The 30-second commercial spots that cost an estimated $3 million are reputed to be "the best of the best," Letter23 President Kelly Casaday said.

And after more than four grueling hours weighing the humor and memorable elements of commercials for Bud Light, Doritos and a host of other products, the marketing savvy group settled on the commercial that featured Emerald Nuts and Pop Secret popcorn in which people acting as dolphins literally jumped through hoops for their favorite treat as the best of the lot.

The 12-member panel — only two of whom admitted to being football fans — hit the mute button on the sound between ads as they sat around a table filled with snacks waiting for the next commercial.

"I didn't even know who was playing today," said Letter23 employee and judge Dave Moppert.

They may not take the game seriously, but the judges closely monitored the "great grid-iron battle" as Casaday called it.

"The Super Bowl is not just about football, it's about American culture and advertising," he said. "This is the Black Friday of advertising."

The marketing company has been judging Super Bowl commercials for the past 8 years, and most of the judges, who were situated at the company's headquarters at 329 Pierpont Ave. in Salt Lake, said this was the best way to watch the Super Bowl.

"The perfect commercial is a mix of monkeys, attractive women and monster trucks," Casaday said.

The panel gave a close second to the Bridgestone Tire commercial in which a squirrel, about to be run over by a car, starts screaming and is followed in his cries by other woodland creatures until the car swerves and misses him — a testament to the tires' responsiveness.

The judges gave a Snickers commercial with Betty White a third-place rating.

"Any commercial with Betty White is worth it," Sage Turk, Letter23's creative director, said halfway through the first quarter of the game.

A True TV commercial with a groundhog reference took fourth place and the Bud Light commercial — one of many for the brand — that spoofed the "Lost" TV show placed fifth.

The panel also noted that there were some commercials that were "just too awful for words."

The judges picked five that lacked originality and would likely be forgotten the next day.

The "worst of the worst" was a Skechers commercial that ran twice about a shoe that helps "firm up your behind," Casaday said. "And it shouldn't have run once."

The judges felt the Budweiser Clydesdale commercial was boring, especially compared to the "amazing" one from four years ago, placing it as the second worst commercial. A GoDaddy.com commercial was rated third worst, followed closely by a Harry Potter land promotion by Universal Studios that placed fourth worst. Fifth worst was a commercial by Round-Up, a weed-killer product.

The judges also gave an honorable mention in the "worst" category to a pro-life Focus on the Family ad featuring University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow and his mother.

"That was pathetic," Casaday said after watching it. "They just spent $3 million for Tim Tebow to talk to his mom, and nobody will remember it."

e-mail: lgroves@desnews.com