2013 Super Bowl Ads Preview: The Good, the Sexy and Mildly Controversial

The smell of chicken wings and seven-layer dip is the air.

The smell of chicken wings and seven-layer dip fills the air. The carbonated whisper of beer cans opening in unison tickles your ears. Somewhere, Jackie Harbaugh is wondering which of her sons she will love more at the end of the night. It is Super Bowl Sunday, and the game is about to begin!

Just kidding! It is only Thursday, and all that we have to satiate our football hunger is a humble grouping of Super Bowl ad previews.

So join me in watching them, and pretending — if just for a moment — that it’s the big day and the working week is just a distant memory.

The Good (relatively speaking)

Hyundai uses Wes Anderson-esque stylized detachment to sell their 2013 Sonata Turbo. Who’s buying?

Pepsi made Super Bowl history with a sexy Cindy Crawford in cut offs. This ad will not make Super Bowl history, but it gets points for an extended take of a teenager dumping a full gallon of milk on his head and casting a Will Forte lookalike as a preternaturally chill, soda-loving dad.

Audi’s “Prom” is a classic nerd-does-well story, and those are nice stories to tell. Now, is it appropriate how forcefully our commercial’s young hero kisses the prom queen? It certainly wouldn’t fly at Oberlin, but I’ll let you be the judge.

The stupid

Axe Body Spray is the worst. And now they are dragging down poor Buzz Aldrin. The man walked on the moon, people. He is better than this.

Mercedes-Benz is trying to fool you by calling this commercial “Kate Upton washes a car.” Poor, unsuspecting viewers will be waiting for a wonderfully sudsed up Upton (a Sudsupton!), only to be shown a group of teenagers doing menial chores. But take heart, there is still Upton jiggling involved.

Taco Bell’s “Grandpa goes wild” is exactly what it sounds like: It is a grandpa going wild. While funny enough, it is clearly a straightforward Jackass rip off, and so it finds itself in the “stupid” category. Sorry, grandpa.

The mildly offensive

You knew this was coming, right? The Volkswagen “Get Happy” commercial that the entire Internet — and now the Jamaican government – is weighing in on. Clearly you can see what category I’ve stuck this in, but I’m no Super Bowl commercial cop. Feel free to decide for yourself.


Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at