With the average cost of Super Bowl XLVI ads up 17 percent from a year ago to $3.5 million for a 30-second spot, this year's lineup of commercials range from the predictable and reliable, like Go Daddy's teases, to the shiny-faced freshmen entrants, including those of a few budding filmmakers.
"Most of them are humorous storytelling," Brian Steinberg, TV editor with Ad Age, said. "You don't even know what will be controversial. Some will be interpreted badly in a way that was never intended."
A handful of ads have been rolled out online already, and Steinberg said if companies do not release their ads by Thursday, that usually means they are waiting to air them first during the game.
On Wednesday, Volkswagen released its highly anticipated ad with a surprise ending, paying homage to last year's successful ad, "The Force," which featured a pint-sized Darth Vader.
Here's a preview of six other surprising ads already released online to garner buzz:
1. "Chevy Happy Grad"
Independent filmmaker Zach Borst, 26, who won Chevrolet's contest to create the company's Super Bowl ad, said he was inspired by the first cars that his father, a New York City police officer, bought for him and his three siblings.
"And he worked really hard for that - my mother too," said Borst, whose production company is called Goat Farm Films, based in New York. "They were used cars. That meant the world to us though."
The ad, which spotlights a recent graduate's infatuation with a yellow Camaro, was filmed in four hours near his home in Long Island, N.Y. During Chevrolet's ad contest, filmmakers from 32 countries submitted 400 scripts and 198 films. Chevy also announced a "Game Time" app that allows users to win prizes as they watch the Super Bowl.
2. Acura's "Transactions"
Acura's first Super Bowl commercial features avid car collectors Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno competing for the first 2015 NSX supercar. The ad also includes a cameo from the actor Larry Thomas, nominated for an Emmy as "Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series" for portraying the "Soup Nazi" on "Seinfeld" in 1996.
The 60-second spot is scheduled to air in the third quarter.
3. PepsiMax "Check-Out"
"Check-Out" is a throwback of a 1996 Pepsi commercial, which also features a Coke delivery man guiltily trying to get a Pepsi. The ad features Regis Philbin, in his first television "project" since leaving ABC's "Live! with Regis and Kelly" in November.
Larry Woodard, director on the Advertising Week board and chairman of the American Association of Advertising Agencies' New York Council, said he was surprised at the nod to the old commercial.
"Beverage and beer companies fall into this trap. They lean on past commercials that people have liked and hope people want to see more of that," he said.
4. Kia Motor's "Mr. Sandman"
Kia only released a teaser for its 60-second spot, but "Mr. Sandman" has all the earmarks of an "extreme dream sequence," as the car company states. Featuring model Adriana Lima, The Chordettes' recordings of "Mr. Sandman," and Mötley Crüe's "Kickstart My Heart," the ad is set to premiere on Feb. 2 on YouTube.
Interestingly, Kia is premiering the commercial starting Thursday not only on YouTube but in movie theaters and will be the first company to do so.
5. Honda CR-V's "Matthew's Day Off"
Scheduled to air at the end of the third quarter, Honda's Super Bowl commercial first generated buzz with the rumor that Matthew Broderick was going to reprise the role of Ferris Bueller from the 1986 film "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."
"The campaign encourages the active, hip Gen-Y audience transitioning between their carefree twenties and their more focused thirties to conquer their aspirations," Honda stated in its press release. The only thing missing is the Ferrari 250GT California Spyder featured in the movie.
6. Doritos' "Man's Best Friend"
Jonathan Friedman, a freelance filmmaker, was one of five finalists for Doritos' "Crash the Super Bowl Contest" from 6,100 entries. Doritos will air only two of the five ads during the Super Bowl, likely in the game's first half, and those winners will each win $1 million. Doritos said Friedman created the ad from $20, using his neighbor's yard in Virginia Beach, Va., the talent of an actor friend, and his mother's friend's 120-pound great dane, Huff. The cat collar was about $10 and the dog treats were $8, leaving $2 for a bag of Doritos.
"As a filmmaker without big budgets in the past, you learn to do what you have to," said Friedman, who shot the commercial using a Canon 7D camera.
Friedman said the actual money he spent was closer to $40 because he bought multiple bags of Doritos.
"I didn't know how many we would go through or we would destroy," he said.
Doritos invited the five finalists and one guest per person to watch the Super Bowl live in Indianapolis. Friedman said he invited his assistant director, his younger brother.