Super Bowl 2012 boasted the largest viewership in the championship’s history, with 111.3 million tuned in to their TVs (a rise of 0.3 over the previous record from last year). Naturally, that’s going to mean it’s “super” important which commercials showed and what trends advertisers were using to promote those expensively promoted brands.

Many of the ads we saw this year were derivatives of success stories from former years. Top contenders were Budweiser, E*Trade, GoDaddy, Volkswagen and Doritos. No major brands made a surprise appearance during what would have been a smash year to debut.

Another trend was the introduction of dogs – perhaps a cheeky reference to the day’s other big televised event, the Puppy Bowl? Canines were featured in commercials for Volkswagen, Skechers, Doritos and Bud Light:

Volkswagen showed a dog getting in shape to chase the new Beetle. But at the end, it cuts to a surprise scene calling back to last year’s Darth Vader triumph, a smart little wink to audiences.
Skechers highlighted a French bulldog named Mr. Quiggly who wins a race by running in the brand’s sneakers. (This ad was picked as the best overall by the Michigan State University Department of Advertising, which has been rating the event’s commercials for 15 years.)
Doritos showed a Great Dane bringing his owner chips in order to stay quiet about the neighborhood’s missing cat.
Bud Light featured a rescue dog trained to fetch beers, and the commercial ended by informing viewers how they can also connect with pets in need.

One viewer favorite was a Honda CRV commercial featuring Matthew Broderick spoofing cult classic “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” Another hit was David Beckham’s latest underwear advertisements for H&M, which prove to the world that the aging athlete’s still got it. Elton John’s Diet Pepsi spot caused a lot of controversy in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, as he panned Madonna’s upcoming halftime performance and touted his own appearance (the ad also highlighted Fox’s “The X-Factor”). M&Ms once again toed the line between risqué and humorous as red character stripped out of his candy shell, confusing the brown female character for being naked.

Check back next week for a by-the-numbers look at how these ads performed.