Millions gathered around television sets Sunday evening to watch the Seattle Seahawks take down the Denver Broncos in an easy 43-8 victory, but for many of those revellers the outcome of the game was secondary to the annual crop of splashy, big-budget Super Bowl ads.
Commanding up to $4 million for 30 seconds of airtime during The National Football League’s premiere event, Super Bowl ads have taken on a life of their own in terms of cultural significance – and with the rise of social media factoring into their release and production, Super Bowl commercials have become more elaborate than ever.
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Many of this year’s most buzz worthy commercials premiered well in advance of Sunday’s big game online, garnering plenty of attention from the internet peanut gallery and mainstream media alike.
Because almost every ad is available for repeat viewing after the game on video sharing sites like YouTube, Canadian audiences now have the option of seeing the same ads as their American counterparts – and they’re eating them up by the millions.
Here are 10 of 2014’s most well-received and widely circulated Super Bowl commercials, based on feedback from Canadian audiences on social media.
Budweiser’s “Puppy love”
In this heartwarming one-minute-long spot, a golden retriever puppy forms a strong bond with one of the iconic Budweiser Clydsedale horses. “#BestBuds” reads a hashtag under a logo at the end of the advertisement, which has already racked up more than 30 million views on YouTube. Released online Jan 29., it is the most widely shared Super Bowl advertisement to date according to Viral Video Chart.
Dannon Oikos’ Full House reunion
By soliciting the three stars of 90’s sitcom Full House to star in its 2014 Super Bowl Commercial, Dannon managed to score a significant amount of media attention for its Oikos Greek Yogurt brand. The advertisement’s teasers, which reunite characters Uncle Jesse (John Stamos), Uncle Joey (Dave Coulier) and Danny Tanner (Bob Saget) have been shared widely on social media in recent weeks and even inspired a skit featuring all three actors on the Jimmy Fallon show.
Toyota's "Big game ad starring Terry Crews and the Muppets"
In this ad for the 2014 Toyota Highlander, Terry Crews (reluctantly) picks up the stranded Muppets who proceed to take him on a musical adventure. By the end of the spot, the NFL-star turned "Old Spice guy" is shirtless once again and thrilled by the encounter.
Bud Light’s “Ian up for whatever”
Arnold Schwarzenneger stars in one of three ads produced by Bud Light this year with the slogan “The Perfect Beer for Whatever Happens” and the associated hashtag #UpForWhatever.
In a four-minute long film showing all three spots together, the action star and California Governor is joined by Don Cheadle, Minka Kelly and Reggie Watts to surprise an unsuspecting bar-goer with one wild night of partying – and ping pong.
Jaguar 's British villains 'Rendezvous'
In yet another celebrity-packed Super Bowl spot, actors Tom Hiddleston, Ben Kingsley and Mark Strong play suave, Jaguar-driving British villains, posing the question: "Have you ever noticed how in Hollywood movies, all the villains are played by Brits?"
#ItsGoodToBeBad reads a hashtag at the end of the ad, which premiered Jan. 28 on YouTube. To date, it has more than seven million views.
"When families eat breakfast together, amazing things can happen," promises this year's Super Bowl ad from Cheerios. This spot marks the return of young Gracie, whose multiracial family sparked a nationwide debate about diversity in advertisements last May.
Gracie is seen in this year's Super Bowl ad sweetly beckoning her dad for a puppy after he reveals she'll soon be welcoming a new sibling. Once again, Cheerios tugs at the heart strings in a pure and simple way.
Carmax's "Slow clap" and "Slow bark"
American used car retailer CarMax produced two separate ads for its 2014 Super Bowl campaign. The first shows one man being congratulated by way of an epic slow clap after successfully buying a car -- the second is the same advertisement, recreated with puppies. While CarMax decided to air the original, human-version of the ad during the big game, it's the puppy version that won more hearts (and shares) around the animal-loving web.
GoPro's "Red Bull stratos"
GoPro's 2014 Super Bowl commercial lets the world relive skydiver Felix Baumgartner's wild 2012 jump from space to earth, in crystal clear 1080p. "Our Super Bowl XLVIII commercial documents one man's extraordinary courage to jump from the edge of space — with GoPro cameras recording every record-breaking moment," reads the video's caption on YouTube. An extended eight-minute-long version of the 30-second spot is also available online.
Beats Music's Ellen DeGeneres ad
Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres takes the role of Goldilocks in this comedic retelling of the classic fairy tale Goldilocks and the three bears. After declaring papa's beats "too fast" and mama's beats "too slow," Goldie Ellen discovers Beats Music. She then proceeds to have a dance party with three bears and a wolf, "and they all lived happily ever after."
Kia's "The truth" Morpheus big game commercial
Laurence Fishburne reprised his role as Morpheus in the Matrix trilogy for this Kia ad, the second-most shared Super Bowl of 2014. "Take the blue key, go back to the luxury you know," he tells an unsuspecting couple. "You take the red key, and you'll never look at luxury the same again." He later bursts into Puccini's Turandot in the car's back seat.
Kia, like so many other brands this season, proves that star power can go a long way in the world of advertisements.
Which 2014 Super Bowl ads were your favourites? Share your picks with us on Twitter @CBCNews.