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The numbers may not be in yet, but we can assume that the Super Bowl was watched by many kids, tweens and teen. According to our YouthBeat survey, 76% of youth ages 6-17 watch NFL games regularly, and that number rises to 79% among 8 to 12 year olds. 

Acknowledging the presence of younger viewers (and viewers young at heart), Fox finished off their evening with a special Super Bowl themed episode of Glee, complete with spoofed Super Bowl Ads and a half-time rendition of Thriller. Within the game, performances were decidedly kid-friendly, or at least kid-conscious. Lea Michele (Glee) sang “America the Beautiful” (just before Christina Aguilera’s lyric-lapsing version of the national anthem), and the Black-eyed Peas kept half-time relatively tame in their bedazzled costumes. We only wish that Usher’s appearance served as an intro to his protégé, Justin Bieber – can you say Bieber Bowl 2012?

Ads might not acknowledge the youth audience as much as we would expect, with a cluster of spots for family/kid films airing after 10:00 pm on the east coast. But there were a few, and if our 2010 YouthBeat results are any indication, we would expect that some of these ads will stick in kids’, tweens’ and teens’ minds for more than a fleeting moment…

Last year, Doritos’ Super Bowl ads topped tweens’ and teens’ list of favorites and this year’s consumer-created ad in which a man literally faces the consequences of teasing a pug with the cheesy is sure to hit their radar. Raising the stakes from dogs to bears, McDonald’s aired a spot early in the broadcast that began with a familiar “McDonald’s as reward” motif but took an edgier twist.

But our favorite ad, for Volkswagen Passat, tapped into an insight we’ve seen played out in auto advertising over the past few years: thinking about cars means thinking about kids for many of today’s consumers. Or maybe kids just serve as the perfect symbol for the whimsy that we want to feel about driving? In any case, we think this ad pulled in parental nostalgia and contemporary kid culture by using a Star Wars theme (Clone Wars on Cartoon Network has kept the intergalactic franchise fresh for kids and tweens) and left us with a happy ending that parents and kids couldn’t help but love.

Click here to see it for yourself!