It's big game time, and that means big ad time.
The Super Bowl brings out the biggest, boldest, and sometimes the best that advertising teams around the world have to offer. Well, at least for those with the biggest budgets, because reports say a single 30-second ad spot is running for US$7 million this year. And that's before they pay for the big productions and celebrity endorsements.
Car companies don't want to get left out of one of the biggest viewing experiences in the world, so they show up in a Super way, too. Last year we got Eugene Levy in a Nissan Z, Arnold and Selma Hayek as Zeus and Hera in a BMW, Chevrolet doing the Sopranos in an electric Silverado, Kia's electric dog, and more.
While there were nearly a dozen automotive ads last year, this year saw just a handful. Even so, they were still excellent ads, with car chases and celebrity endorsements, plus a look at a new pickup we had never seen before. Because the big ads are blocked in Canada in favour of more local ads like basement stop-leak services, here are the best car commercials you missed from Super Bowl LVII.
Ram 1500 REV – Premature Electrification
Ram's might be the biggest deal of all the Super Bowl ads this year. Called "Premature Electrification," it showed us the production version of the brand's electric pickup – dubbed the Ram 1500 REV – for the very first time. The ad showed us the truck by turning buyer fears of electric vehicles (EVs) into a phony ad for erectile dysfunction (even though that's not quite what the ad is mocking).
We're sure there are some deep layers in this ad. Playing on the transformation of erectile dysfunction from something that was a punch line on '90s sitcoms (remember Joey confusing impotent and omnipotent?) into less of a big deal when the likes of Viagra and Cialis spent countless millions on ads over the years is certainly one dimension. Reminding the traditional truck buyer that EVs were once embarrassing but are now cool to have in your garage is surely an other. And, of course, there's the idea that EVs aren't all showy bursts of speed between constant charge stops.
Anyway, the truck is cool. Even if it isn't the REV concept we were hoping for and is instead just a gas Ram 1500 with a new nose. Ford is doing just fine with the all-electric F-150 Lightning, which took exactly the same route. Stay tuned for more about the Ram 1500 REV.
GM + Netflix – Why not an EV?
Remember two years ago when Will Ferrell and General Motors (GM) challenged Americans to buy more EVs than Norway in a big-game ad? Well, the two are back this year – and they brought Netflix into the mix, too.
GM and Netflix have announced an interesting new deal: the streaming service will put GM's electric cars and trucks in its productions. But they want to show you that the EVs won't be embarrassing and out-of-place product placements. (Like Hyundai in 'The Walking Dead' or Toyota in that season of 'Bones'.)
In the ad, Will Ferrell shows off when the GM EVs might show up and when they might not. "If you're gonna get swarmed by an army of the dead, why not get swarmed in an EV," Ferrell asks. An excellent point.
Ferrell shows that EVs won't fit in 'Bridgerton' or in 'Stranger Things', but where EVs make sense Netflix productions will include them. It's a neat idea, and one we're looking forward to seeing going forward.
Jeep 4xe – Electric Boogie
The second Stellantis ad in the game was for Jeep, and it was a lot simpler than Ram's. The ad is for Jeep's 4xe plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models, including the Wrangler 4xe and the Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe. Like animals? This one has plenty, and they're dancing to a remix of Marcia Griffiths' 1983 hit Electric Boogie. This time Shaggy is on board to help make it more modern.
Both the Jeepers and the animals are doing the electric slide! Get it? OK, it's not much of a stretch, but you do get a CGI goat in the passenger seat of a doorless Wrangler, so that's cool.
Kia – Binky Dad
Kia's ad is every parent's nightmare. Checking into your vacation hotel to learn that baby's favourite binky is still back at home. [And if you're unfamiliar with the term "binky," you're not alone. – Ed.]
Dad's panic turns into an epic drive. Captured and posted to social media, the world (or at least a small part of America) bands together to help out and cheer on this hapless dad as he races home in a Kia Telluride X-Pro. That's the off-road trim, so he goes through snow, tackles a trail, and hits highway speeds that should probably turn Binky dad into banned-from-driving dad.
In the end, dad gets the binky and gets back to the hotel, but Kia isn't ready to let him off the hook just yet. Our doomed dad has, predictably, brought the wrong one. Sorry dads – plenty of you have brought this one on yourselves, even if we don't like the ol' incompetent dad trope.
Universal – Fast X Trailer
Get ready to hear the word "family" said in increasingly gravelly tones about a dozen times in the next three minutes. It's time for the 10th installment in the 'Fast and Furious' franchise, with Vin Diesel and everyone else that's ever made an appearance in the series except for Duane Johnson. Apparently, Diesel and Johnson don't mix.
Fast X pulls a few tricks that the series has done before, like adding Jason Momoa's character back into the events of 'Fast Five'. It's also full of absurd stunts like Vin (sorry, Dom?) being such a good driver he can out-manoeuvre the world's slowest shockwave, and a faceless henchman being body-slammed through the floor of a house.
But it also has something we haven't seen in the series in more than a decade: a good old-fashioned four-car drag race. Sorry, pizza boy – road's closed! We're just wondering if there's anything left for the actual movie after this nearly four-minute trailer.
Oh, that's right – there's always time for family.
There are usually some cool car spots in the other ads, even if they aren't about the cars themselves. This year, we saw just one. At least aside from Walter White and Jessy Pinkman's Fleetwood Bounder.
The trailer for 'Air', a story about how a shoe salesman convinced Nike and everyone else to go all-in on a pre-NBA Michael Jordan, has some sweet 1980s hardware. Like that whale-tale Porsche 911 Turbo at the 1:23 mark. Anybody want to tell us which factory paint colour that is?
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts
This one actually ran before the game started, so it doesn't really count. But the new 'Transformers' film has picked up Porsche as its automaker partner, and that means a new Autobot. The name is Mirage, and the car is a vintage Porsche 911 Carrera RS 3.8. We're sure there will be more when the film hits theatres in June.