(CNN) — The Super Bowl has long since gone well beyond being a game, becoming more of a national holiday that celebrates the collective love of football, television and the advertising that helps make both possible.

gettyimages 9143511621 Super Bowl LII: Who Scored, And Fumbled, On TVs Biggest Stage

New England Patriots fans react as the Philadelphia Eagles pull ahead near the end of the of Super Bowl.
(credit: Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

Still, a bit like the game on the field, there’s another high-stakes contest for the hearts and minds of consumers, playing out on TV’s biggest annual stage.

So who scored, and who fumbled, in capitalizing on their super showcase, one that set advertisers back $5 million for a 30-second in-game commercial? Here’s a by-no-means-comprehensive breakdown:

Who scored

Netflix. Living up to its reputation as a disruptive, unpredictable force in the entertainment business, the streaming service not only promoted its recent acquisition of the sequel “The Cloverfield Paradox” but proceeded to drop the movie immediately after the game — thumbing its nose at conventional distribution models. If the principal goal is to use the Super Bowl to get noticed, Netflix achieved that and then some.

The NFL. After a difficult, controversial year, the NFL capped its season with a terrific, high-scoring, wildly entertaining game that reminds people why they love football, while sidestepping any peripheral dust-ups. Moreover, the league topped that off with one of the day’s best ads in its “Dirty Dancing” spoof.

Tide and Australia tourism. Both of their commercials playfully spoofed the excesses associated with Super Bowl advertising — the former featuring David Harbour, aping other ads; the latter, by initially disguising itself as a movie spot — in a way that cleverly cut through the clutter.

Movie studios. This year’s aspiring blockbusters were out in force, with Disney wielding the biggest stick by promoting its twin titans “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” stoking already heated anticipation for those titles. Granted, not all the movies looked like winners, with “Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom” — which, technically, aired right before the game began — among the other standouts.

Premium TV. While Netflix made the biggest news, other premium services also seized on the opportunity, including HBO (“Westworld”), Amazon (“Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan”) and Hulu (“Castle Rock”)

T-Mobile. Promoting diversity is nothing new in Super Bowl spots, but T-Mobile’s ad using babies to celebrate people’s differences felt like a higher evolution of the similar ad that Coke ran later in the game.


Who fumbled

Ram Trucks. Whatever the good intentions of its ad using a Martin Luther King Jr. speech — an image-enhancing exercise, tied to its “Built to serve” campaign — the net effect raised the specter of trivializing the civil-rights icon’s legacy in order to help sell trucks.

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Budweiser. Yes, the beer marketer aired a moving spot for its emergency-relief efforts, along with more annoying ones for Bud Light. But the bottom line is whenever you come away from the Super Bowl without Bud ads being near the top of the list, they’ve fallen short of their rich history as the game’s highest-profile sponsor.

Keanu Reeves/Squarespace. Just in terms of Advertising 101, Reeves’ don’t-try-this-at-home stunt did nothing to explain the product, or what on Earth riding a motorcycle down a barren road had to do with it.

Kia/Steven Tyler. Beyond the absurdity of driving one’s car backwards at a ridiculous rate of speed, the computer-rendered younger version of Tyler that emerged actually looked a whole lot worse than the current edition.

gettyimages 914319540 Super Bowl LII: Who Scored, And Fumbled, On TVs Biggest Stage

Justin Timberlake performs during the Pepsi Super Bowl LII Halftime Show at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Justin Timberlake. The pop star’s Prince tribute actually wasn’t that bad — and turning Minneapolis purple was a pretty inspired touch. But once the “Prince hologram” rumor leaked out and was denied, it was a virtual certainty that a lot of people would react badly as soon as the late singer’s image appeared, and despite its high energy, the rest of the by-the-numbers show wasn’t enough to compensate for that.

By Brian Lowry, CNN

™ & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.


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