Where was the Denver Broncos' vaunted offense? Why was our former governor Ah-nold wearing a women's wig in a Budweiser commercial? What the heck is a Maserati Ghibli or Kia K900?
The 2014 Super Bowl matchup between Peyton Manning's Broncos and the victorious Seattle Seahawks raised many questions in viewers' minds, but within the automotive world, nothing piqued people's interest more than ads by Maserati and Kia, according to kbb.com and Edmunds.com.
By brand, searches for Maserati went up 700% on kbb.com after the Italian automaker's ad "Strike" aired in the first quarter of the game. By model, searches for the Ghibli that starred in that ad went up 4,250%, according to kbb.com.
VIDEO: Watch Maserati's Super Bowl ad
"Maserati, not a name that you would associate with your average household luxury brand, stepped into the foyer in a major fashion," said Arthur Henry, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book. "In an ad that was reminiscent of a movie trailer, the Ghibli was introduced to the general public, Maserati's first car selling under $100,000."
Meanwhile, Edmunds reported that Kia's "The Truth" ad — a riff on the popular "Matrix" movies — garnered a 7,100% increase in Web traffic for the new K900 full-size luxury sedan. The increase was compared to the average user interest over the previous four Sundays, Edmunds said. By brand, Kia's growth in user interest was second at 215%, Edmunds reported.
The Maserati Ghibli was second on Edmund's model rankings, with a 455% increase in traffic, while brand interest rose 299%.
VIDEO: Watch Kia's "The Truth" Super Bowl ad
Maserati, which is owned by Fiat (which also owns Chrysler Group, including Dodge, Ram, and Jeep), is a brand looking for significant growth both in the U.S. and globally. The company sold just 4,768 cars on our shores in 2013, a number it's looking to increase significantly for 2014.
Key to doing so will be the star of Maserati's Super Bowl ad, the new Ghibli. It's a midsize luxury sedan targeting rivals like the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Lexus GS, and Audi A6. The Ghibli comes in two forms, each with a twin-turbocharged V-6. The S is rear-wheel-drive with 345 horsepower, while the S Q4 is all-wheel-drive and packs 404 horsepower.
In addition to the Ghibli, Maserati's full-size Quattroporte sedan is also new for 2014, while a long-rumored SUV based on an existing Chrysler model (likely the Dodge Durango) is in the works.
The ad also starred Quvenzhané Wallis, who became the youngest actress ever to be nominated for an Oscar in 2012 for her starring role in "Beasts of the Southern Wild." She also has roles in "12 Years a Slave," and an upcoming release of "Annie."
Kia is also looking to make gains in the luxury market with the K900, a point it sought to drive home with its "The Truth" ad, starring Laurence Fishburne, one of the stars of the "Marix" trilogy.
The K900, due in dealerships in the coming months, is a full-size, rear-wheel-drive sedan based on the Hyundai Equus. It hopes to lure shoppers away from the likes of the Lexus LS by offering the same laundry list of top-end features at a significant discount.
The V-8 model starts at $60,400, while a V-6 version will be released later in 2014 and will move that price closer to $50,000. Nappa leather, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, a 12.3-inch screen, climate-controlled rear seats, and a panoramic moonroof are all available on the V-8 K900, which come standard with 420 horsepower and an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The K900 looks to pick up where Kia's Cadenza family sedan leaves off. That model — also a recent addition to the brand — is a near-luxury sedan with front-wheel-drive and a V-6 that starts around $36,000.