NEW YORK — Forget the battle between the Giants and the Pats. The real Super Bowl showdown is between advertisers.
The Super Bowl is advertising's biggest stage and companies spent an average of $3.5 million for 30-second commercials for the right to duke it out during Sunday's game. This year's ads use celebrities, nostalgia and sex appeal to draw in the 111 million-plus viewers who are expected to tune in.
A Best Buy ad shows the inventors of things like the camera phone. M&M is introducing its new "spokescandy" Ms. Brown. And Chrysler will have a two-minute spot starring actor Clint Eastwood.
"Viewers challenge the corporate community — can you really entertain me on Sunday?" says Bob Horowitz, executive producer of the annual CBS "Super Bowl's Greatest Commercials" show. "The bar is high but I believe the creative is stepping it up a notch this year."
Here are some ad highlights to look out for during the game:
Several advertisers decided to use scantily-clad people in their ads to draw attention.
Clothing retailer H&M's ad shows soccer star David Beckham in his underwear.
Online florist Teleflora and automaker Kia both use Victoria Secret's model Adriana Lima.
And Toyota's ad, which depicts "reinvented" objects in the style of its "reinvented" Camry, features a "reinvented" couch made up of women wearing bikinis. "It also comes in male," a voiceover in the ad says while showing a couch of shirtless men.
Celebrities always draw attention, a fact Super Bowl advertisers continue to use to their advantage.
Chrysler, one of nine automakers advertising during the game, is airing a two-minute Super Bowl ad that stars Clint Eastwood. The aging actor talks about the rebirth of Chrysler and Detroit. This follows the company's ad last year that starred rapper Eminem.
And real-estate company Century 21's ad shows that a real estate agent is able to outdo speed skater Apolo Ohno on the ice, business mogul Donald Trump in business and former football player Deion Sanders at an open house.
Some advertisers are attempting to appeal to viewers by stirring up old memories.
Honda's ad for its compact sports-utility vehicle CR-V shows actor Matthew Broderick living a grown-up version of his 1986 hit movie "Ferris Bueller's Day Off. The ad includes two dozen references to "Ferris Bueller's Day off.
Likewise, an Acura NSX ad features 1990s comedic titan Jerry Seinfeld battling with late-night talk show host Jay Leno over the sportscar. The ad includes Seinfeld references like a cameo by the "Soup Nazi" character. Dannon went for fans of 1990s hit TV show "Full House" by featuring one of its stars, John Stamos, in an ad to tout its Oikos Greek yogurt.
And Downy's ad remakes one of the most classic commercials of all time, Coke's 1980 spot "Mean Joe Green." In the original, a little boy gives a gruff football player Joe Green a Coke as he comes off the field. The Downy remake stars Green and actress Amy Sedaris in the little boy role giving Green a can of Downy fabric softener.
Sticking to a formula
Why tinker with what works? Many advertisers are revisiting past spots.
Job search website Careerbuilder.com's chimps are back for the eighth time, as is stock-trading website ETrade's baby, who is making his fifth appearance.
And domain-name hosting site GoDaddy uses "Go Daddy Girl" racecar driver Danica Patrick again, just as it has done every year since 2008. She's starring in both GoDaddy's ads — her ninth and 10th Super Bowl ad appearances — making her one most often-appearing Super Bowl ad celebrities.
Dee-Ann Durbin in Detroit contributed to this report.