Space babies who travel to Earth via rocket ship. A flamboyant, sarcastic genie who grants wacky wishes. Scantily clad babes who beguile.
These are some of the silly and sexy ad themes that will take center stage on Super Bowl Sunday and not just for inexpensive, easy-to-buy mass products such as chips, beer or cola.
Rather than showing cars hugging curves and accelerating up hills, a larger-than-ever group of Super Bowl automotive advertisers will be featuring womanly curves and revving up humor to promote their big-ticket machines.
While their products are much different - and much more expensive - than the grab-and-go soft drinks and snacks, many carmakers say that ads just as fun and lively as the ones for those products are essential for Super Bowl ad success.
"This is an audience that is looking to be entertained," says Michael Sprague, Kia Motors America's executive vice president of marketing and communications. "It's the Super Bowl - an ad has to be entertaining and innovative - and it's got to stand out from the others."
A Kia ad for the Sorento SX Limited crossover SUV shows toddlers and baby animals rocketing to Earth from outer space. They're part of a tall tale that a father uses to answer his son's "where do babies come from?" query. The dad eventually distracts his boy by playing a kid-friendly song on the Sorento's sound system.
A second Kia commercial shows a sexy robot-like woman (former Miss USA Alyssa Campanella) roughing up a man after he kicks the tire of the new Forte EX compact sedan.
A "traditional car-on-road advertisement" wouldn't stand out for a Super Bowl game viewer and potential car buyer, says Sprague.
Many other auto advertisers appear to agree with that theory. Some of their Super Bowl XLVII ad plans:
• Toyota's RAV4 commercial features The Big Bang Theory star Kaley Cuoco as a genie who fulfills a family's wishes. Among their desires: becoming a princess and eating copious amounts of chocolate.
• Audi's commercial stars a promgoer who is dateless but goes confidently anyway in his dad's S6 performance sedan. Once there, he boldly kisses the prom queen and is confronted by the prom king. Audi posted three ads with alternative endings to that prom night on its YouTube channel. Beginning Thursday at midnight, viewers have 24 hours to to cast votes on which ending will be seen in the Feb. 3 game.
• To promote its redesigned 2013 MKZ sedan, the Lincoln division of Ford Motor solicited tweets from consumers about their most unexpected road trips. The best stories were chosen by talk-show host Jimmy Fallon and will be dramatized in a mashup narrative for the commercial. A second ad will show a Lincoln Town Car driving through flames and transforming into a MKZ.
• Hyundai will have an ad just before the kickoff featuring its new three-row version of the Santa Fe crossover and two ads during the game, part of a series of five running during the day. The first in-game ad also features the Santa Fe and involves a boy who creates his own dream team to take on "neighborhood troublemakers." The second game ad shows a couple on a road trip as they dodge and weave past unexpected obstacles in a Sonata Turbo sedan.
• Mercedes-Benz hasn't released its Big Game creative plans, but its teaser ad features super sexy model Kate Upton hanging out at a car wash, and it's a good bet she'll show up in the game ad, too.
• Volkswagen just launched an oddball teaser ad featuring unlikely stars of popular YouTube videos, but has not released details about the follow-up game ad.
• Chrysler has promoted its Chrysler and Fiat brands in past games but isn't providing any information about its 2013 Super Bowl plans at this time.
Auto shopping and information site Cars.com also is back in the game this year and has released a teaser for its ad showing a man dramatically busting in on a focus group session hosted by his ex-girlfriend to proclaim his love for her. But she has a new boyfriend, who is also in that group.
Even though game viewers aren't always in the market for such a big-ticket item, the Super Bowl is an ideal time to court potential car buyers and users for Cars.com's service, says Linda Bartman, chief marketing officer for Cars.com. (Cars.com is partly owned by USA TODAY parent Gannett.)
Cars.com's Super Sunday ad will have a "no drama" theme that plays to car buyers' apprehension about buying a new vehicle, Bartman says, and will show how the service "takes the drama out of the car-buying process."
And while some auto advertisers will target a broad demographic, many are focused on a young male target buyer, hence the Big Game ads featuring sex appeal and even sophomoric humor.
Automakers naturally gravitate to the Super Bowl because it hits their young male target, says Jeremy Anwyl, vice chairman of Edmunds.com, a new-car buying research website. Product categories such as "cars, booze, burgers" often hone in on the young male sweet spot, he says.
Laura Petrecca and Chris Woodyard, USA TODAY