Ah, the Super Bowl. Sure, we love the game, but we also love the ads. Commercial airtime is outrageously expensive, so the advertisers spend lavishly to make sure they drive their message home. This was the first time the big game has gone into overtime, and the automakers went into overdrive to sell us their products. Here’s a roundup of the car ads from this year’s game.
Alfa Romeo: Introducing Alfa Romeo
Fiat Chrysler spent their entire ad budget for the big game on reintroducing America to the Alfa Romeo brand with a trio of ads, leading off with "Riding Dragons." Written in a similar tone to Chrysler’s made-in-America-themed ads of Super Bowls past, this ad leads with a reminder of our youthful dreams of strength and heroism and how those were tempered with maturity and grace as we aged — traits that are (surprise, surprise) reflected in the Alfa Romeo brand. It’s a good ad that strikes the same deep chords as Chrysler and Jeep’s Super Bowl ads but without the patriotic theme.
Part two is "Dear Predictable," which features a red car speeding down a twisty European road — a classic (and not-so-subtly Germanic) way to introduce America to the new Giulia sedan.
Third of the trio is "Mozzafiato" (Italian for "breathtaking"), an artsier ode to the beauty of the Giulia sedan. The final tagline was a bit nonsensical ("Some cars take your breath away. Only one gives it back." Huh?), but overall, these three commercials form a stunningly beautiful introduction to Alfa Romeo.
Audi used their ad time to make a strong statement about gender equality. "Daughter" shows a young girl doing some epic driving in a soapbox derby race, while her father speaks in voice over: "What do I tell my daughter? Do I tell her that despite her education, her drive, her skills, her intelligence, she will automatically be valued as less than every man she ever meets?" The ad shows a brief shot of a car and references Audi’s commitment to equal pay for equal work. It’s a strong political statement that might not sit well with some viewers, but we applaud Audi for reminding us of one of the great inequalities that still exists in our society. We couldn’t help but nod in response to the ad’s tagline: Progress is for everyone.
Buick: Not-So-Pee-Wee Football
Buick returned to the Super Bowl with another ad featuring professional football players and supermodels. During a pee-wee football game, a new Cascada convertible pulls into the lot, and a stunned father says, "If that’s a Buick, my kid’s Cam Newton." Guess what happens? As for the supermodel, Miranda Kerr pops up later with a repeat of the gag: "If that’s a Buick, then I’m a supermodel." It’s fun to watch a full-size player mixing it up with the kids, but we’ve seen this before — specifically in 2010 with Snickers, Betty White and Abe Vigoda. At least it gave Newton a chance to appear in the Super Bowl…
Ford: Go Further
The lead-off commercial from the pregame sponsor, Ford’s ad starts off with people getting stuck — on a ski lift, on a roof, in a wet suit, on a boat in the middle of a lake. This is a classic Super Bowl commercial: It’s cute, it’s funny, and you have no idea who the sponsor is until a Ford truck shows up to rescue a hapless Toyota Camry that is stuck in the snow. This ad is classic and memorable, and it made us smile.
Good special effects were sadly lacking in this year’s crop of Super Bowl ads, but Honda delivered with this fantastic ad for their new CR-V. The commercial is narrated by a collection of stars, all speaking through animated versions of their yearbook pictures. The commercial features Amy Adams, Steve Carell, Viola Davis, Missy Elliott, Tina Fey, Magic Johnson, a clarinet-playing Jimmy Kimmel, Stan Lee and Robert Redford (complete with swooning classmates), and it ends with a red Honda CR-V. This was arguably the most memorable car commercial of this year’s game.
Hyundai: A Better Super Bowl
Hyundai’s ad was shown at the end of the game, and with good reason: Before the coin toss, it didn’t exist. Hyundai shot and edited the entire 90-second spot during the game. Opening with a flyover of the U.S. military base in Zagan, Poland, the ad features three soldiers who were able to watch the Super Bowl with their families — virtually. Using 360-degree cameras in the stands and circular projection enclosures at the base, these three lucky soldiers got to see and talk to their families, presumably for the length of the game. The spot was a good reminder of the thousands of brave individuals who, among their other sacrifices, have given up the simple pleasure of watching the season’s greatest game in the same room as their friends and family.
Kia: Hero’s Journey
Along with Honda’s spot, this was one of the most memorable commercials of the game. Melissa McCarthy gets a firsthand lesson in the perils of being an eco-warrior, and as the saying goes, much hilarity ensues. The ad finishes with a reminder that the new Kia Niro is an easy (and much less dangerous) way to go green. We have to wonder how many people will recognize the car — it’s a brand-new model that most people have never heard of — but we bet they’ll chuckle at the ad.
Lexus: Man and Machine
A dancing man and a drifting Lexus. What else is there to say?
Mercedes: Easy Driver
Mercedes’ Super Bowl ad was directed by none other than the Coen Brothers of "Fargo" and "The Big Lebowski" fame. A group of aging bikers mixes it up to Steppenwolf in their favorite bar, only to find that their bikes have been blocked in by Peter Fonda of "Easy Rider," except he isn’t riding — he’s driving in a Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster. Witty and beautifully shot, this is a classic Super Bowl commercial.
WeatherTech: Team Super Bowl
You have to wonder just how lucrative the floor-mat business is when WeatherTech can afford a Super Bowl spot. A man swerves to avoid a rock slide, his coffee goes flying, and the WeatherTech team goes into action, building his floor mat, boxing it up and having it delivered by a black-clad superheroine who jumps from her van onto his Navigator to drop the mat into place though the sunroof — all before his coffee can hit the carpet. You have to love the pure cheek, and it’s easy to root for WeatherTech, a company that proudly boasts of making their products in America using American-made machinery, American materials and American workers.