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'Dads Who Play Barbie' ad is the real Patriots-Steelers winner

Social media users loved the Mattel commercial showing a football-loving father playing dolls with his little girl.

Americans are used to companies rolling out their elaborate, made-to-go-viral ad campaigns during the Super Bowl itself. But two weeks before the Big Game itself?

Never mind the timing, but on Sunday night during the New England Patriots-Pittsburgh Steelers AFC Championship Game, it might have been a commercial that earned fans more than either team.

The Mattel ad is brief and gets right to the point: A dad foregoes his football-watching time because it's more important to play Barbie dolls with his little daughter.

You could almost hear the "awwwwws" reverberating in all 50 states.

Social media reaction showed that football fans aren't afraid to be sentimental.

Many of those responding remembered their own childhood Barbie-and-dad days.

And some shared photos proving that Barbie can be as dramatic as any soap opera star.

Of course, it's a commercial, and Mattel is selling Barbie playsets "curated to celebrate the special bond between a girl and her dad." Maybe because those playsets include more stereotypical masculine accessories, such as cars, scooters and sports equipment, although to be fair, mermaids and ballet dancers are also represented.

Regardless, the commercial had some Twitter users openly talking of playing with their own daughters someday. Which was probably the point.

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