After a house a car is likely to be the second most expensive purchase you'll ever make. Stands to reason, then, that manufacturers are willing to spend top dollar to get you thinking about their products.

Quotes for advertising 'spots' vary but, according to figures from ITV, if you wanted a 30-second advert to run in London during its primetime Coronation Street at 7.30pm, you'd be looking at £14,872 per go.

It's no use telling customers in London about your new car if customers in the Midlands aren't getting a look in, though, and to broadcast the same spot to all regions means your costs will rise to £59,549. 

That's per advert, per time, too. Just think how many spots you'd be looking to acquire to secure a new product firmly in the nation's minds.

Take, for example, a big product like the new Nissan Qashqai. The firm wouldn't confirm exact figures – citing the fluidic nature of booking advertising spots – but said that any campaign to promote a flagship model would cost millions, instead of hundreds of thousands.

Adverts have to be able to do a lot in a short timeframe, too. According to Forbes, the ads that work best must have a story, clearly defined characters and catchy music. Viewers must be convinced they're watching a mini movie that just happens to feature a product. In short, the best adverts don't look like adverts at all.

With that in mind, I've rounded up what I think are some of the best examples from the past few decades. My top ten is by no means an exhaustive list, so feel free to chip in with your suggestions in the comments section below.

10. Toyota - GT86: The Real Deal (2012)

Banned for 'condoning dangerous driving' shortly after it was first aired, Toyota's placement of its GT86 sports car as the hero in this dystopian tale still has the power to thrill.

9. Mercedes-Benz - Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes-Benz (1995)

No, Mercedes didn't write the music and lyrics to this iconic song, although at the time of the ad's release many believed the company had. In fact it simply borrowed the existing song from '60s singer Janis Joplin to create the hit.