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Super Bowl day is Prairie Dog Day

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Feb. 2 is Super Bowl XLVlll, Ground Hog Day and since 2007, the date has also been designated by conservation groups as Prairie Dog Day.

The Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos will battle it out for the NFL Super Bowl championship Sunday afternoon at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

But creative and unusual commercials have traditionally been one of the games' major highlights since the first Super Bowl was played in January 1967.

This year’s crop of ads cost $4 million for a 30 second spot and will demonstrate once again that a cute animal will make the best pitchman 9 out of 10 times.

Already the Budweiser Puppy Love advertisement is expected to be one of the favorites, with its heart-warming theme of a special bond that develops between an adorable puppy and a Budweiser Clydesdale.

The Christian Science Monitor lists (with video) the six best-rated animal-featured commercials to date:

  1. Budweiser Clydesdales playing football (1968)
  2. EDS cat herders (2000)
  3. Tabasco mosquito (1998)
  4. Bridestone squirrel and friends (1998)
  5. Doritos pug (2011)
  6. Volkswagen weight-watching dog (2012)

Honorable mention goes to the 2006 FedEx dinosaur-kicking commercial and the series of Budweiser frogs and lizards commercials that ran from 1995 through the early 2000s.

On Sunday, ground hog Punxsutawney Phil will prophesize whether or not winter will continue or spring will arrive early by the sight of his shadow or lack thereof.

One could envision a Super Bowl ad with toothy ground hogs doing a dental-product pitch or competing with a beavers for green-home construction.

Prairie dog conservation groups across the west will hold celebrations in honor of one of the most misunderstood and ecologically important species of the Northern Great Plains. Prairie dogs have a sophisticated communication system that includes vocals, body language and gestures.

One could imagine a Super Bowl commercial featuring excited prairie dogs popping up and down from their burrows to exchange opinions about their favorite Internet devices, security systems or best things to eat besides bushes.

Meanwhile, Bruno Mars and Renee Fleming will perform at halftime on Sunday and get their shot at making Super Bowl history after some questionable shows in the past.

So, may the best team win during one of the few days a year when the world’s negativity can be washed away with beer, the consumption of nitrate-filled hot dogs and the “awww” factor of adorable critters that provide laughs, tears and a product sales pitch that sometimes gets eclipsed in the process.

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