Super Bowl 50 was a defensive struggle on the field, but advertisers went on the offense when it came to this year’s commercials. Advertisers paid a reported $5 million for 30 seconds for the broadcast time alone. No wonder, advertisers played it cautious by trotting out familiar faces and familiar music to help pitch their products.
Carmakers dominated the advertisers in Super Bowl 50. Let’s look at the ads carmakers ran to determine if the commercials were a touchdown or if they should be called for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Hear our comments on the Super Bowl Ads.
Read more detailed comments below.
Acura ran a 60-second spot promoting their 573 horsepower, $156,000 2017 NSX. Acura estimates annual demand will total just 800 vehicles. The ad titled, “What He Said,” successfully stokes desire. Molten metal and arcing sparks suggest the machine-birth of the NSX, accompanied by Van Halen’s “Runnin’ With the Devil”. Clearly, there was some gender divide with this ad, but I’m sure Acura accepts that as a cost of doing business. This ad rates an A-. Watch
Buick showcased its new Cascada convertible at the Big Game in a commercial titled, “Wedding.” New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. and “Gone Girl” actress Emily Ratajkowski were the familiar faces Buick trotted out. The humor in the ad fell short with “totally O’Delled it.” If I can understand the reference, it can’t be too hip. I rate this ad a C-. Watch
Talking animals are practically the price of admission for a Super Bowl 50 ad, but Honda takes it one step farther with singing sheep. They absolutely nail Queen’s “Somebody to Love” in the Ridgeline commercial. The minute-long spot allows Honda to spell out the pitch: The 2017 Ridgeline is the only truck offering a truck-bed audio system. The question is, “Do we need a truck-bed audio system?’ One of my favorite ads, I rate it an A. Watch
The Korean carmaker ran three ads during Super Bowl 50. All were as exciting as a safety. Sure, it’s worth 2 points, but does anyone really care?
The first ad showed signs of humor. The funny idea — two young women drive through a town where all the men are Ryan Reynolds. The car stops autonomously as the two star-struck women pay too much attention to Reynolds and not enough on driving. In the end the ad sells safety. I give it a C. Watch
The second ad featured star power as comedian Kevin Hart makes hilarious, over-the-top use of the automaker’s Blue Link vehicle finder feature. The commercial’s them is a clichéd daddy-daughter dating scenario. Nonetheless, you can’t help smile with Kevin Hart. The ad has a creepy, stalker factor, so I rate it a C. Watch
The third spot was for the 2017 Hyundai Elantra. It shows a frantic sprint through a forest, ferocious bears and voice commands saving a young couple in danger. Hyundai leaves talking bears to be the spokespeople (?) for the car, and that falls flat. This ad gets only a C-. Watch
What do the Kia Optima and a pair of socks have in common? Christopher Walken. Even the quirkiest Academy Award-winning actor of them all can’t save this ad, however. Urging the viewer “the ones who stand out” by … driving a new midsize sedan is an oxymoron. Fanciful, colored socks and Christopher Walken make this ad interesting, so I give it a grudging B-. Watch
Mini tackles the stereotypes and labels assigned to its little cars head-on with a star-studded 30-second spot. Celebrities recite the kinds of labels that have attached to Mini in the United States to show how inaccurate they are. (See Boy Cars, Girl Car). Abby Wambach, Randy Johnson, Sereena Williams, Tony Hawk, T-Pain and Harvey Keitel give the ad its star-power. My favorite part is when 6 foot 10 inch Randy Johnson emerges from the car. I rate this ad an A-. Watch
The new Audi R8 reignites a retired and aging astronaut’s passion. With a top speed of 205 mph, it’s a rocket ship on wheels. Audi used Super Bowl 50 to push a product that’s out of reach to most, but what a car. Audi pays tribute to David Bowie’s “Starman” to suggest that driving its new flagship sedan is a decent substitute for commanding a space vehicle. I give this ad an A-. Watch
For the first time since 2005, Toyota showcased the Prius hybrid in four spots during Super Bowl 50. Three of the spots tell a compelling story of bank clumsy bank robbers using a Prius as a get away car. You have to admire Toyota for using storytelling to sell the car.
The first was a humorous 90-second. In the cops chasing robbers ad, Toyota disarmingly counters negative perceptions about the Prius not being fast. This ad gets a solid B. Watch
The second ad titled “Heck on Wheels”, an ordinary office worker, Todd, tries to convince us that he’s “bad-ass” driving a Prius to work. He claims it’s the only time he feels alive. Pitiful. Even singing ducks towards the end can’t save it. I rate this ad a C-. Watch
The third ad titled “Hunters,” makes the case “To catch a Prius, you’ve gotta be a Prius.” It’s the sequel to Toyota’s “Longest Chase” ad. In the end, however, they never catch the bad guys. I rate this ad a C. It’s not as funny as the first, nor does it make the case that even a Prius can catch a Prius. Watch
The fourth, and final, ad is for completionists that want to know how the story ends. In a way, it’s a commentary on how social media glorifies criminals turning them into heroes (Bonnie & Clyde probably would have trended on Twitter, if it had been around). I like the cultural relevance of the ad, so I rate it a B-. Watch
Hyundai (Branding Commercial)
Hyundai uses the tag line “‘Better’ is the engine that drives us” in this commercial that follows a young man driven by a small motor in his chest. The creeposity factor of this commercial is high as the engine is visible throughout this young man’s life. I rate this commercial a C-. Watch
FiatChrysler ran two ads for Jeep during Super Bowl 50; one I liked, the other I didn’t.
The ad I liked was titled, “Portraits.” It took a reverent look back at the history of the brand in our culture, from a military vehicle to a cultural icon. Using classic black-and-white photography and then slice-of-active-life video, the ad tugged at my heartstrings with a stirring homage to our military men and women. I give this ad an A-. Watch
The other titled, “Jeep 4 x 4 Forever” didn’t match up to other Super Bowl epics, but it went down better than many other ads on a day when we’re all supposed to be having fun. Even the original music for the ad couldn’t save it. I rate this ad a C+. Watch