Carmakers spend up big on the annual Super Bowl commercials, with a 30-second in-game spot costing $3.7m and even slots at the start and end of the game commanding premium prices. It's money well spent if they can attract attention – and turn it into sales. And a good ad can go far beyond the game day, turning viral and getting millions of views. Volkswagen's Darth Vader from the 2011 Super Bowl and the hot Adriana Lima commercial from the 2012 Super Bowl are just two of the stars that went on to become global successes.
So which were the big contenders this year? Mercedes-Benz was early out of the gates with a teaser featuring swimsuit model Kate Upton 'washing a car slowly'. The shapely Ms Upton didn't actually get her own hands wet – except to blow a bit of foam around – and her role seems to be mainly distracting the footballers who are doing all the hard work. Merc followed up with what must have been a costly exercise for the CLA, with a pact offered by Willem Dafoe as Satan, and the Rolling Stones 'Sympathy for the Devil' as the soundtrack.
We reckon Coke filched ideas from two top Aussie movies. Their Coke Chase ad featured a gang of Mad Max baddies and a crew of showgirls in a pink Priscilla bus, vying with a Great Escape motorbike, a posse of cowboys and a camel-leading Arabian sheik – all in a race to a giant Coke bottle. The ad was the key creative in an online campaign that lets viewers vote to let three of the teams reach the bottle first – or delay the other teams by watching linked 'sabotage' videos.
The early teaser for Toyota's 'Wish' spot featured The Big Bang Theory's Kaley Cuoco – it looked like fun and was backed up with the 'Careful What You Wish For' full ad, which gained much from Cuoco's perky personality as Penny.
Kia's Space Babies teaser shows some fantastic CGI, and an even more fantastic answer to kids asking where they come from. The ad works well nearly right to the slightly lame ending, but it's doubtful it stacks up as something to rival their viral stars, the Soul Hamsters.
But the Kia ad that had everybody talking -- including motoring journos -- was 'Hotbots', where a robotic motor show stand attendant (we don't call them booth babes here) gets revenge on a grubby guy.
Hyundai went all-out for the Super Bowl with several spots. The 'Team' one for Santa Fe was an early favourite, with some great performances from child actors -- and a very scary mum.
The 'Playdate' took you on an extreme day out of having fun and upsetting security guards, bikies and police, with the Flaming Lips providing the soundtrack.
The Genesis was talked up in 'Excited' with Hyundai touting its advantages over high end, and particularly German, luxury cars.
And then there was the aversion therapy of 'Stuck', showing some of the worst vehicles you can be stuck behind in traffic -- unless you have a Hyundai Sonata to overtake them, of course.
Volkswagen ditched the Star Wars theme, and instead drafted reggae legend Jimmy Cliff for their 'Get Happy' teaser – and then got into a little hot water with the full ad, which shows Caucasian men taking off Jamaican accents. Perhaps it's still a Star Wars link ... the movie franchise faced similar accusations of racial stereotyping with the Jamaican-sounding Jar Jar Binks.
VW then followed up with a low-key but effective 'bad dog' ad, showing what to do when the dog eats your car keys.
Audi tapped into every adolescent boy's fantasy with a lad heading off to prom night alone being tossed the keys to his dad's Audi S6, kissing the football jock's girlfriend and generally making it a night to remember.
Fiat has launched a trio of ads for the 500L, all aimed at emphasising how much larger it is than the garden variety 500. Date, Sisters and Wedding are all flavoured with Italian dressing and – while not as scorching at the Catrinel Menghia Abarth ads – still manage to be cheeky.
The Chrysler group turned on the patriotism for their slightly saccharine ode to a farmer and Whole Again ads.
And even snack food Doritos has got in on the car act, with one of the finalists for its Crash the Super Bowl ad playoff featuring the perfect solution to a back seat dog problem.