You have heard it before. The ads during the Super Bowl are watched more closely than the action in the game.

That may be true for some people, though not for Giants and Patriots fans. But there is a lot hoopla and big dollars around the ads: $3.5 million for each 30-seconds of ad time. Car companies represent the category with the most advertisers participating, so we, being AOL Autos, figured we would rank the top-ten car ads of the game.

In the 2011 Super Bowl, there were two car ads that seemed to capture most of the attention: Volkswagen's Darth Vader ad, which garnered more Youtube downloads than any other in the game, and Chrysler's landmark two-minute-long brand anthem featuring rap icon Eminem.

Nine car companies at game-time had reserved national ad buys: Chevrolet, Hyundai, Volkswagen, Audi, Suzuki, Toyota, Chrysler, Honda and Acura. Others, like BMW, bought "spot" ad buys, which means the ads won't run nationally but rather just in selected markets important to BMW.

Because Youtube downloads have become a measure of how popular a Super Bowl ad is, most companies not only released their ads early, but some created longer-form versions of the ads for people to watch.

See if you agree with our ranking, and leave us comments about the ad you think is best, or if you think we left out your favorite car ad of the big game.

David Kiley is editor-in-chief of AOL Autos, former marketing editor of BusinessWeek, ad columnist for Adweek and a former advertising executive having previously worked on Cadillac, Mazda and Mercedes advertising.

10. Chrysler


Last year, Chrysler was the talk of the game with an unprecedented two-minute ad that poetically lifted up the city of Detroit with music from Eminem, and a finish featuring the iconic rapper with a local Detroit church choir. The ad seemed to give everyone who has ever been part of Detroit a lump in their throats.

This year's two minute ad, continuing the "Imported from Detroit" theme, is meant to lift all of Chrysler's brands--Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, Jeep and Mopar. It features the raspy, almost crippled voice of iconic actor-director Clint Eastwood.

Not only is the choice of Eastwood iffy, in our opinion, but what is really problematic is the writing by ad agency Wieden & Kennedy. "It's half-time in America" immediately made us think of the famous Reagan ad in 1984, "It's Morning in America." The rest of the ad, however, read more like a political ad that someone might write for Ralph Nader if he was running for in the Michigan primary. Some have even suggested it was a pro-Obama message in an election year, a charge that Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne flatly denies.

While last year's ad was uplifting, this ad seems to go nowhere. It neither lifts my idea of Detroit, nor Chrysler's brands or product. It is an interesting message, but doesn't seem to fit in ad-land as last year's spot did.

We are still putting this ad in our top-ten because we are giving props to Chrysler for trying to do more than just flip the bird at its competition or crack a joke. Chrysler is out on the ledge with its advertising, trying to make people wake up to the value and pride of vehicles that are designed, developed and produced in Detroit and their U.S. factories. We applaud the idea, but urge the people working on the campaign to execute the idea better so it has a shot at being accepted and believed on the coasts, as well as in the heartland of America.

9. Hyundai - All For One



The ad starts out with a Hyundai grunt office worker lamenting that he can't figure something out. The ad breaks into a montage of Hyundai employees, from office workers to line workers and dealership mechanics doing the theme from Rocky, "Gonna Fly Now," on his behalf for inspiration.

Ads that use employees are always a risk. But this is the second time in Super Bowls we remember Hyundai pulling it off.

8. Hyundai - Cheetah vs. Veloster Turbo



A simple premise with a good comedic twist for the beer and chips crowd. Some joker has decided to do a match race between the Hyundai Veloster and a Cheetah.

The Veloster takes off and the Cheetah is released. Seeing immediately that the race is a waste of time, the Cheetah turns on the handler and mauls him. Violent humor usually does well with the Super Bowl crowd. Not sure what says about us as a people, but the ad works just fine.

7. Chevy Sonic



"Chevy Runs Deep" is the positioning and tagline of the Chevy brand for now. This ad is a kind of video scrapbook of "firsts" like one might keep for a child. The stunts have been done as part of the Chevy Sonic's launch on www.letsdothis.com.

Sonic's first skydive, first music video, first kickflip, first bungee jump.

There is a lot of feel-good energy in this ad. It's not a barn burner, but we like it well enough for the top ten.

6. Honda CR-V



Another strong use of celebrity by an automaker, using actor Matthew Broderick to reprise his role as Ferris Bueller.

Like Acura's use of Seinfeld, this ad, created by the same ad agency, RPA, draws on an iconic film known to pretty much all the Super Bowl audience.

Broderick does very well with the material. The Honda CR-V becomes a bit incidental to the whole bit of course. We wonder if the ad would have been even better if the scenes and situations had been better adapted to Broderick's middle-aged status, rather than depicting him as being the same old imp he was, now as an actor who feigned illness to get out of a day of shooting he wanted to skip.

Honda spent a lot of money this year on these ads, and the game. And RPA went all out on production and hoopla. That is certainly a change for this usually conservative Japanese company with two brands that could use some caffeine in their images.

5. Kia Optima



There is a lot of story in this Kia ad for the Optima, and that is not a bad thing.
The sandman is sprinkling his dream dust on a sleeping couple. The woman dreams of a fantasy stud. The sandman accidentally dumps his sand all over the man, who dreams of driving a Kia Optima through a wild fantasy valley of a Motley Crew performance, hippo rodeo, beautiful buxom babes and a giant sub sandwich.

The only trouble with this ad is that if you don't know the celebs in the ad besides Motley Crew, which gives us that info with a stage graphic that says "Motley Crew," you are a bit in the dark.

We like that he burst into his wife's dream at the end, though, vanquishing the pretty boy. Good job.

4. Volkswagen Beetle



Volkswagen was King of last year's Super Bowl with its ad featuring a kid dressed as Darth Vader. In that ad, the kid goes around the house trying to command things to happen...to no avail. But when Darth Junior raises his hands to try to start the VW Passat, his Father helps out with the remote starter from inside the house.

It was a tender moment, and it captured the hearts of the Super Bowl audience. Goes to show how simple ideas can kick butt when done well.

In this year's spot we see a totally new ad, a story about a dog that so wants to chase the slimmed down, sleeker VW Beetle that he goes on his own training regimen to trim down. The kicker is that the ad is an ad within an ad. At the close, the spot morphs to a bar where they are watching the commercials. An homage to the famous bar scene in Star Wars, it also pays an homage to last year's ad. Nice.

3. Chevy "Graduation Day"



Kudos to Chevy for an ad that is just raucous. The idea and story is simple. The new grad is getting a college-boy fridge for graduation, but he thinks he is getting the snappy yellow Camaro convertible parked behind it.

Interesting that the ad was created via a contest Chevy ran, rather than from one of its usual ad agencies. And we think it was the best of the ads that General Motors offered up on game day. Watch the longer form ad on Youtube if you can.

2. Toyota Camry



Toyota and ad agency Saatchi and Saatchi surprised us with a seriously entertaining spot for one of the world's dullest cars--the Toyota Camry.

Just as we were surprised, though, at what a good job Toyota did in redesigning the Camry for the 2011 model year, we were doubly surprised that the agency scored so well with the ad.

The spot plays off the idea of all the things that could be "reinvented" as well as the Camry. We especially like the brass of the agency in re-inventing the idea of the couch. In one scene, the ad is made of cheesecake girls, and in another scene, beefcake boys. And the hero of the ad seems impressed with both ideas.

1. Acura NSX



Jerry Seinfeld and his eponymous hit TV show dominated ratings and popularity for a decade. Numerous lines written for the show and its characters remain in the cultural lexicon as the show lives on in syndication.

Soup Nazi. Close talker. Re-gifting. Use of celebrities in Super Bowl ads is a risky proposition, but Acura and ad agency RPA totally pulled it off. We wonder how much of the ad was written by Seinfeld, because the ad is so much better than anything we have ever seen from Acura or RPA for this brand.

We have read some comments about the NSX not getting enough screen time in the ad, but that is so not the point. Some 100 million people who aren't in the bathroom or getting a beer will surely stay engaged for the whole ad. The longer form, on Youtube, is clicking like mad, with over ten million views before game time.

Funny, engaging, entertaining. And the surprise cameo by Jay Leno at the end totally works.

Congrats on having the best car ad of the game.