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Associated Press
This advertisement provided by Volkswagen of America Inc., shows a creature and friends at the bar of the Cantina, to air during Super Bowl XLVI, Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012. Volkswagen charmed millions of viewers last year with a ?Star Wars? themed ad introducing its redesigned 2012 Passat sedan that showed a little boy in a Darth Vader costume trying to use ?The Force? on different objects.(AP Photo/Volkswagen of America Inc.)

NEW YORK — Companies hope you'll be gabbing about their Super Bowl ads on Monday morning. But the ultimate score is if those conversations continue throughout the year.

The Super Bowl is an advertiser's biggest stage (more than 111 million fans are expected to tune in this year). It's also an advertiser's biggest gamble (a 30-second spot costs $3.5 million).

Marketers are willing to take the risk, though: A successful ad can generate buzz well after the game for the companies, products and people who star in them.

"If you do it well, it has the opportunity to set your company straight or change the direction of your company," says Allen Adamson, a managing director at brand consulting firm Landor Associates. "You'll never get all those people in one room again until next year."

One of the most talked-about ads from last year's Super Bowl was dubbed 'May the force be with you.'

Volkswagen's ad last year had everything to grab your attention: a cute, little boy, a retro theme, a funny plot.

The German automaker charmed millions of viewers with a "Star Wars" themed ad for its redesigned 2012 Passat sedan.

The commercial shows a young boy in a Darth Vader costume trying unsuccessfully to use "The Force" on a doll, washer machine and even his pet dog. Finally, he thinks he's done so when his dad uses a remote to start the Passat. The boy is shocked.

Volkswagen took a gamble by releasing the spot before the game — something most advertisers didn't do last year. But the move paid off: the ad quickly became a viral hit on video-sharing website YouTube, with 49.4 million views since. And it came in No. 3 on USA Today's Ad Meter, which ranks Super Bowl commercials.

And the 6-year-old boy in the ad, Max Page, became a celebrity.