Toyota USA (via YouTube)
Video: Toyota ad starring Terry Crews and the Muppets.
The Super Bowl is Sunday, and we know many of you just watch the show for the commercials, some of the funniest or fanciest that the ad industry creates all year.
Advertisers pay $4 million for a 30-second commercial during the Fox broadcast, expected to draw up to 100 million viewers in the United States. But you can see them many of them for free right here, days before the game itself. (Plus a couple you won't see.)
Companies looking to jump the gun and take advantage of Super Bowl advance hype to hype their own products have posted a number of ads already — though the game itself will likely have some big ads we don’t get to see until they hit the airwaves. Los Angeles is home to the shoots for a number of these ads, so keep an eye out for any locations you recognize.
1. Budweiser: “Puppy Love”
This one hits a number of Super Bowl sweet spots: adorable puppies, friendship between animals, cars, the countryside — Americana. The Budweiser Clydesdales costar alongside their puppy pal, and some humans play an almost incidental role. It also features the tinkly singer-songwriter pop of the band Passenger, with the song “Let Her Go,” which previously hit number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100.
2. Kia K900: “The Truth”
The ad features Laurence Fishburne’s character Morpheus from “The Matrix” in an ad that essentially goes against the entire message of that film — instead of rejecting the niceties of the world for a futuristic hellscape, Morpheus offers a couple the opportunity to drive a more luxurious vehicle. It plays up some Matrix tropes, including cameos by a couple of agents, a bending spoon and another car diving in a la the famed chase from “The Matrix Reloaded.” Oh, and Morpheus belts out the aria "Nessun Dorma," making the ad that much sillier as it strives for viral success.
3. Toyota Highlander: “No Room for Boring”
Terry Crews, who you know from a million movies, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and his formidable muscles, plays a buttoned-up guy who stops on the side of the road to help out a stopped tour bus — and meets the Muppets, just ahead of their new movie coming out this March. They take him on a cross-country adventure, playing music as they show him what’s possible. This could also be called “How Terry Crews Got His Groove Back.” Crews previously had advertising success as a pitchman for Old Spice.
4. and 5. CarMax: “Slow Clap”/“Slow Bark”
This ad features a long slow clap for a new car buyer — my personal favorite comes from a bear — but as the online version of the ad notes, taking a cue from the Puppy Bowl, they also created a puppy version of the ad. No need to fear, realists — rather than clapping, these puppies engage in a long series of barks, which is adorable if not a bit more irritating than the clapping. (I guess we’ll never know the sound of one puppy clapping.)
6. Dannon Oikos Greek Yogurt: “The Spill”
John Stamos has been doing Greek yogurt ads for a while, but Stamos gets his sexy vibe interrupted in this one by a “Full House” reunion with Uncle Joey and Danny Tanner (aka Dave Coulier and Bob Saget). As one commenter pointed out, though — if they’re all in character, where’s Aunt Becky?
7. Jaguar: “(British Villains) Rendezvous”
This Jaguar ad asks one of life’s big questions: Why a good bad guy is always played by an Englishman. The stars include Tom Hiddleston of “Thor” Loki fame, Ben Kingsley (the Mandarin from "Iron Man 3") and Mark Strong (Lord Blackwood in Robert Downey Jr.'s first "Sherlock Holmes"). It was directed by “Les Miserables”/“The King’s Speech” director Tom Hooper, who notes in a behind the scenes video that it takes a lot to convince him to do a TV ad, but that he liked the concept and the truth behind this one. Hooper also teases in the bonus video that working on the ad tempted him to want to do a longer action film — perhaps that could be next on the director’s wish list.
8. Audi: "Doberhuahua"
What happens in a fantasy world where you breed a chihuahua with a doberman? The question is asked by Audi as a way of getting at the dangers of compromise, with things going awry as the video plays out like a funnier version of “The Twilight Zone.” It also features a celebrity appearance from Sarah McLachlan, famed dog lover/person who makes you sad in anti-animal cruelty ads that make sure you will never get “Angel” out of your head.
9. Cheerios: “Gracie”
This one’s all about an adorable little girl getting some big news from her parents — and her plans to capitalize. It features the same family as in this prior ad, which drew racially charged comments due to the depiction of a mixed race couple. Those comments led to the video’s YouTube comments being disabled.
10. Chobani: “Bear”
In this ad, a bear horrifies mountain town citizens when it appears at a general store — but all it wants is some yogurt. Two of this year’s Super Bowl themes appear to be yogurt and bears.
11. Volkswagen: “Wings”
Playing off the “It’s a Wonderful Life” concept — every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings — this ad posits that every time a Volkswagen hits 100,000, a German engineer gets his wings. Volkswagen had a lot of Super Bowl success before with their “Star Wars”-themed ads, with a tiny tyke using the Force — will viewers find angelic Germans as entrancing?
12. Axe Peace: “Make Love, Not War”
The ad ditches the tradition of Axe ad bro-ing out with women going wild over an Axe man in the easily parodied ads. Instead, we get a number of situations in which conflict looks all but certain, which instead end with declarations of love. It’s an ad that promotes the product while delivering a positive message.
13. Coca-Cola: “Going All The Way”
A pee-wee football player overcomes his fears to go all the way, making the big play — and continuing to run, all the way to Lambeau Field. It also ends with a bit of a nod to the famed Coke ad with “Mean” Joe Greene getting a drink from a little boy. Find out more about the commercial’s background in this behind-the-scenes video, including the story of how they used actual members of the local community to play in the ad.
14. Hyundai Elantra: “Nice”
“Big Bang Theory” star Johnny Galecki tries to hit on a woman he’s driving alongside — watch for whether his attempts at being a nice guy meet with any success or land him in the commercial friend zone.
15. Hyundai Genesis: “Dad’s Sixth Sense”
This ad builds on the idea of the Genesis’ “auto emergency braking” being able to prevent accidents, rather than a lifetime of dad being the one to save his kid from trouble. It also features the sounds of Bruno Mars’s “Count On Me” gently pushing you toward that new car purchase.
16. GoDaddy: “Bodybuilder”
GoDaddy made its name on viral hits, usually built around lurid teases with promises of more skin if you went online. They’re keeping a prior celebrity endorser, Danica Patrick, but are making this year’s ad about strength rather than sex.
17. Chevy Silverado: “Romance”
Nothing says “Super Bowl” like pickup trucks and animals. You also get the 5 millionth commercial use of the song “You Sexy Thing” by Hot Chocolate.
18. Not really a Super Bowl ad for SodaStream: “Sorry, Coke & Pepsi”
Scarlett Johansson recently became a “global brand ambassador” for SodaStream, the device that fizzes up your non-carbonated drinks. This ad was submitted for use by the Super Bowl, but —unsurprisingly for an ad that explicitly attacks other big Super Bowl sponsors — it was rejected, giving SodaStream some of the buzz they were trying to create. The "uncensored" version of the ad even mentions self-consciously how it’s trying to go viral. This ad follows on another SodaStream ad, which was also rejected last year. Johansson plays a doctor. She doffs her robe to reveal more of an evening look. SodaStream’s also facing some non-Super Bowl controversy, as is Johansson, because the company operates a factory in the disputed West Bank — it led to Johansson leaving her position as an ambassador with international charity Oxfam.
19. One more bonus ad: Newcastle beer and Anna Kendrick
This is another one that’s not in the actual game, but does have plenty of star power. Teensy "Pitch Perfect" star Anna Kendrick notes that they can’t even say the words “Super Bowl” — it’s bleeped every time she tries — and that Newcastle doesn’t have the money for a real Super Bowl ad. It also includes some adorable Anna Kendrick self-deprecation, describing herself as not beer commercial hot, but “the hottest girl in your improv class hot.” The series of YouTube videos on the commercial that wasn’t ever going to happen is at IfWeMadeIt.com.
See any Super Bowl ads that we haven't posted yet? Let us know in the comments.