2016 NFL Super Bowl Car Ads Ranked From Best to Worst
Every year we wait with bated breath for the epic ads of the Super Bowl broadcast to be shown. We could have just put together a round-up of the ads shown for you to peruse, but this is SB50. It’s a milestone year. So we decided to go one better. We’ve ranked them all for you here, from best to worst, scoring each one out of five for Effort, Creativity and Watchability – for a total possible score of 15.
We’ve linked to all the cool new US ads, and even added scores for the ads shown here in Canada. Thankfully, next year we’ll get to see the good ones from the US side. Until then, we praise YouTube.
Did we get these rankings right? Be sure to let us know in the comment box below.
Audi R8: Commander
Audi has combined space-age nostalgia, an iconic song by a recently-deceased rock hero and just great storytelling to create a spot that will leave you in floods of tears. Also, you won’t get the song out of your head for days.
Effort: 4.5, Creativity: 5, Watchability: 5, Total: 14.5/15
Toyota Prius: Heck on Wheels
“Well my name is Todd, and I got a job!” – might be the best opening line to any spoof song ever. And even if it’s not, it’s easily the best Toyota ad lede of all time. This ad for the all-new Toyota Prius is super tongue in cheek, and also incredibly bad-ass. Dang.
Effort: 4, Creativity: 5, Watchability: 4.5, Total: 13.5/15
Toyota Prius: The Longest Chase and Hunters
Toyota also put together two hilarious Prius as a getaway spots, making the most of the new "sportier" eco-rig. They're good spots with a lot of high-value production put into them. Still not as good as Heck on Wheels.
Effort: 4, Creativity: 4, Watchability: 4, Total: 12/15
Hyundai Genesis: First Date
We were surprised Hyundai would put so much money into a car that won’t technically exist in the very near future - the Hyundai Genesis will soon be the Genesis G80 – but we’re glad they did. Kevin Hart is hilarious as the “pyscho dad” using “Car Finder” to track his daughter on her first date with a new beau.
Effort: 3.5, Creativity: 3.5, Watchability: 3.5, Total: 10.5/15
Hyundai: The Chase
“Did he just voice-start the car?” – yes he did. This ad is intense at the beginning and funny at the end. Not bad for an Elantra spot.
Effort: 3.5, Creativity: 3.5, Watchability: 3, Total: 10/15
Kia Optima: Walken Closet
Christopher Walken. In a closet. Get it? Walken Closet? Even if you don’t get it. Christopher Walken. ‘Nuff said. Don’t be beige, you’ll get devoured.
Effort: 3, Creativity: 3, Watchability: 3.5, Total: 9.5/15
How do you advertise your safety features that mitigate your own inattention? How do you say, “Hey, you’ll get distracted and crash, but we’ll save you” without actually saying that? With millions of Ryan Reynoldses, that’s how. He’s not even that cute…
Effort: 2, Creativity: 4, Watchability: 3.5, Total: 9.5/15
Subaru: Dog Tested
This is one of five dog-related Subaru ads, but is the only one that ran during the Super Bowl itself. The rest were shown during a broadcast of the Puppybowl (yes, that’s a thing). This one is adorable, love the little growl at the end when the dogs see their now mud-splattered Subaru in the hands of the Catlet (It’s a valet cat).
Effort: 2, Creativity: 3, Watchability: 4, Total: 9/15
Catchy song? Check. Cool Americana imagery? Check. This must be a Jeep ad, right?
Effort: 2.5, Creativity: 3, Watchability: 3, Total: 8.5/15
Jeep is big on American sentiment and this ad is no different. It's a touching ad that pulls at your heart strings instead of chest beating. Classy ad. We dig it.
Effort: 2, Creativity: 3, Watchability: 3, Total: 8/15
Mini Clubman: Defy Labels
Simple, but clever. This ad took on the obvious Mini stereotypes and won. It was, much like the car, better than it is on paper. And bonus points apply because this one was shown in Canada too!
Effort: 2, Creativity: 2.5, Watchability: 2.5, Total: 7/15
Buick: The Big Game Meets the Big Day
Bravo to Buick for being the only manufacturer this year to tie their ad to the game itself. In it, Actress Emily Ratajkowski makes a screaming catch reminiscent of Odell Beckham Jr. to catch a bouquet at a wedding. As an added bonus, OBJ is also in the ad. It plays to the “not your Grandad’s Buick” trope and is Buick’s first ever Super Bowl ad.
Effort: 2, Creativity: 2, Watchability: 2.5, Total: 6.5/15
Honda Ridgeline: A New Truck to Love
If the song wasn’t by Queen, would this ad still be any good? Probably not. Singing sheep is cool, but it’s been done. Still, makes the point. The 2017 Honda Ridgeline now has truck-bed audio. To make your sheep happier I guess. Mmmmm… lamb.
Effort: 2, Creativity: 2.5, Watchability: 2, Total: 6.5/15
I am a parent. I love babies, and I love V8s. Babies with their hearts replaced by little V8s? Sorry, that’s just too creepy. We get the message, but sheesh - those optics.
Effort: 3, Creativity: 2.5, Watchability: 0.5, Total: 6/15
Acura NSX: Runnin' With the Devil
Did anybody else notice that the Acura NSX doesn’t actually run for the first 28 seconds of this 20 second spot? No? I did. The song is great and the ad is cool, but is it SB50 quality?
Effort: 1, Creativity: 2, Watchability: 2, Total: 5/15
The Indy 500 is about to be run for the 100th time. That’s a big deal. The race is iconic, history-rich and intense as all get out. Somehow those attributes went completely missing from this ad spot.
Effort: 1, Creativity: 1, Watchability: 1, Total: 3/15
Okay, we’re a much smaller market, that’s true. But why couldn’t we get any decent ads on Canadian TV? Surely the manufacturers could just chip into the US side’s ad budget and get the rights to run them on tv here during the big game?
Thankfully, this is the last ever year we will miss out on the US commercials. #Hallelujah.
As it was, it was a beer commercial with a public safety message that was the only truly decent automotive ad played during the came here in the land of the Maple Leaf.
None of the others were even new.
Helen Mirren on Driving Drunk.
This was the best automotive related ad you saw on Canadian TV during the Super Bowl. Sponsored by Budweiser, Dame Mirren lays the smackdown on drunk drivers more savagely than any NFL defender could ever hope to. Bravo Bud, bravo Helen Mirren for the only decent automotive ad for us in the Great White North.
Effort: 3, Creativity: 3, Watchability: 4.5, Total: 10.5/15
Nissan Rogue (and Pathfinder)
Not new, but this Rogue ad is so good we forgave it. Lots of cool ideas and action in this spot and the snowy Pathfinder spot they also ran. Low points for effort though – as it’s an old spot.
Effort: 2, Creativity: 3.5, Watchability: 3, Total: 8.5/15
Volkswagen App Connect
VW’s ad played heavily to its App Connect Android Auto and Apple Carplay systems (which are very good by the way) in this emotional little ad. Sure, it’s a bit trite at the end where he meets the girl, but he finds his dog, and that’s brilliant.
Effort: 2.5, Creativity: 3, Watchability: 3, Total: 8.5/15
It we’re honest, we’re giving Jeep bonus points here for the wolf. It’s a standout in an otherwise fairly mundane ad. "For all roads" is a cool tag, and it is clever to tie that off-roadability to the sort of work most Cherokees will do 99.9% of the time – city driving.
Effort: 2.5, Creativity: 2, Watchability: 1.5, Total: 6/15
Acura had a similarly mundane ad, but at least theirs had some airborne cars in it. That was pretty great. Watchability was high, but low points for effort.
Effort: 1, Creativity: 2, Watchability: 2.5, Total: 5.5/15
“This is the life of a rebel” – really, the life of a rebel is a 15 second montage of people doing stuff that’s a bit ragged? The “would you jump off a cliff” bit was clever. That was it.
Effort: 1, Creativity: 2.5, Watchability: 1.5, Total: 5/15
Ford’s commercial focused on the company’s financing options and looked pretty staid for the first 10 seconds. The bit at the end where they brought out a dog and said “Hey, we didn’t say we wouldn’t tug at your heartstrings, this is a commercial after all – that was good.
Effort: 1, Creativity: 1.5, Watchability: 2.5, Total: 5/15
Hyundai ruined their otherwise clever ad for the all-new Hyundai Elantra with the lame bit at the end where they went to their tired “How is this possible” sketch. Otherwise it was clever as hell to show the different virtues of the car (like quietness) in innovative ways.
Effort: 1, Creativity: 3, Watchability: 0.5, Total: 4.5/15
It’s snowing. He proposes. Yawn.
Effort: 1, Creativity: 1.5, Watchability: 1.5, Total: 4/15
Toyota had three ads running during the game in Canada and neither were very good so we’re going to combine them into one paragraph. The all-new Prius and all-new RAV4 Hybrid deserved better – especially given their immense potential as green vehicles. The Corolla is far more significant than its advert implied too. Double pain – the US Prius ad was spectacular and fun. Sacked right from the snap on this one.
Effort: 1, Creativity: 2, Watchability: 1, Total: 4/15 Toyota Prius
Effort: 1, Creativity: 1, Watchability: 0.5, Total: 2.5/15
Toyota Rav4 Hybrid:
Effort: 1, Creativity: 1, Watchability: 0, Total: 2/15