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An attempt to change the not-so-sexy perception of the Toyota Prius with a bank robbery, the cast of HBO’s “The Wire” and a police chase of the century were among the most memorable commercials Sunday during Super Bowl 50, a group of Michigan State University professors said.

“Prius was just plain funny in many places, with a laugh after laugh,” said Robert Kolt, an MSU advertising professor. “It (had) good production and (was) very memorable.”

Others agreed that “The Longest Chase” commercial was among the evening’s best.

“I was rooting for the bank robbers,” tweeted Charlie Wolborg, founding partner of Curve Detroit, an advertising agency. “Well done, @Toyota Prius. Excellent work weaving the product attributes into a fun story.”

The ad was among the best, Kolt said, as rated by a group of 25 MSU advertising and public relations professors who had gathered at an East Lansing restaurant Sunday to rank the commercials.

Other advertisements the team ranked among the best was the commercial where a pregnant woman was getting an ultrasound as her husband was eating Doritos, and the fetus appeared to respond to the chips.

The professors thought the spot was among the most funny.

“It was totally unexpected and that’s the way you get humor, is to catch people off guard,” said Jef Richards, chair of the MSU advertising department. “With the husband, you expect the conflict but you don’t expect the baby to react.”

In third place late in the evening was the ad for the Honda Ridgeline truck featuring a herd of sheep singing “Somebody to Love” by British rock band Queen.

“That is a spot that will be iconic,” Kolt predicted. “That will be aired long after the Super Bowl.”

Another commercial ranked highly by the professors was a spot starring a retired astronaut who relives his experience in space while driving an Audi R8.

“Choosing the moon brings out the best in us,” the ad said.

Now in its 19th year of rating the ads, MSU professors called the commercials that aired during the game among the most diverse, which included cars, beer, software, even public service announcements.

They planned to rank the commercials by those that were the funniest, most creative and had the best production.

Each 30-second spot during the Super Bowl game cost about $5 million. The pay off, though, is worth it, Kolt said.

“Buying an ad in the Super Bowl is usually a pretty good investment,” Kolt said. “That’s because it delivers the largest audience across all demographics than any other broadcast program in America — about 150 million viewers.”

KKozlowski@detroitnews.com

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