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The Roundabout Blog

Previewing the Super Bowl’s car ads

  • The advertisements

    Spoiler alert: The advent of the internet means nothing stays unknown for long. This holds true for this year’s crop of automotive advertisements scheduled to air on 3 February during Super Bowl XLVII. And they are louder, quieter, raunchier, cleaner and more costly than ever.

    The exorbitant cost of advertising during the largest single media event on the North American TV calendar, estimated at nearly $4 million per 30-second spot, will leave some traditional advertisers absent from the melee, most noticeably General Motors. Hyundai, meanwhile, handily fills that void with no fewer than four advertisements amid a public apology campaign over misleading fuel economy claims.

    If history is any indication, the automotive ads aired during the game will be whimsical catch-alls. Fiat is expected to show four previously aired, sexually charged ads during the game that portray the new 500L MPV and the gruff 500 Abarth cabriolet as licentious options to the economical hatchback. At the other end of the spectrum, Subaru has hinted that its spot would meld dogs with cars.

    The lid has been kept characteristically tight on at least one advertiser’s commercial. Chrysler, which became a cause celebre for its ads featuring Eminem in 2011, and Clint Eastwood in 2012, has stayed mum.

    Herewith, a survey – albeit in no way comprehensive – of the car-centric cavalcade awaiting the world on Sunday.

  • Mercedes-Benz CLA

    The story: A young man sitting at a corner bistro is tempted by the Devil (Willem Dafoe) to sell his soul for a Mercedes-Benz CLA sedan. His promised reward? Working the red carpet with supermodel Kate Upton; trading moves on the dance floor with Usher; posing on the cover of major fashion magazines; and driving on a Formula 1 circuit. He vanquishes the devil upon learning the CLA’s sub-$30,000 price.

    Pub fact: While a three-pointed star might seem blasphemous on a front-wheel-drive sedan, Mercedes-Benz has sold the front-drive A-Class in Europe since 1997.

    Hashtag: None. More important is the CLA’s un-Mercedes starting price.

    Click here to watch the advertisement. (Mercedes-Benz USA)

  • Volkswagen Beetle Turbo

    The story: Can driving a fun car really cure the monotony of nine-to-five living? That is the theory posited by Dave from Minnesota – a carefree office worker who speaks in a Jamaican patois – and his red Volkswagen Beetle Turbo.

    Pub fact: VW’s Super Bowl XLV Beetle commercial was forgettable, save for a John Spencer Blues Explosion soundtrack. Most of the world was far more entertained by the young Darth Vader in VW’s Passat commercial of Super Bowl XLVI.

    Hashtag: #gethappy

    Click here to watch the advertisement. (Volkswagen of America)

  • Toyota RAV4

    The story: Toyota’s ad for the redesigned RAV4 mini-SUV focuses on flights of fancy granted to the Henderson family by a genie in a purple pant suit, portrayed by Big Bang Theory actress Kaley Cuoco. The spot features the RAV4 moonlighting as a spacecraft, a chariot and a cardiovascular exercise machine.

    Pub fact: Mr. Henderson’s first wish, to exorcise the RAV4’s exterior-mounted spare tire – a feature that debuted with the first-generation model in 1994 – may take a repeated viewing to be fully grasped.

    Hashtag: #wishgranted

    Click here to watch the advertisement. (Toyota Motor Sales)

  • Lincoln MKZ

    The story: In a combined effort with late-night TV host Jimmy Fallon, Lincoln has produced an ad that is more about the story than the car. A plot line that weaves together elements of a Twitter campaign involves high-profile actors, but says little about the Lincoln Motor Company. That said, if you like alpacas and weddings, you will likely love the commercial.

    Pub fact: The last MKZ, a warmed-over Ford Fusion, was originally named “Zephyr”, paying homage to an entry-level luxury model from Lincoln’s Depression-era lineup.

    Hashtag: #steerthescript

    Click here to watch the advertisement. (Lincoln Motor)

  • Audi S6

    The story: The German automaker’s advert takes place on prom night, at which one boy’s derring-do sets the entire gymnasium aflame. The takeaway: if you borrow dad’s 420-horsepower sedan, you can kiss the prom queen with impunity.

    Pub fact: Audi, like Lincoln, enlisted the help of viewers to curate the commercial – this one arguably to much more entertaining effect. The two other endings featured the boy riding in the car with friends, and alternatively, finding a photo of his father with a black eye in his prom picture.

    Hashtag: #braverywins

    Click here to watch the advertisement. (Audi of America)

  • Kia Sorento

    The story: Kia’s ad mixes racy storytelling with product placement in an attempt to circumvent the classic parenting nightmare, “The birds and the bees”. After not-so-subtle allusions to rocket ships and, well, coitus, the parents (and viewers) return to reality when the ad fittingly concludes with a round of “The Wheels on the Bus”.

    Pub fact: The address shown quickly on the Sorento’s navigation system – 111 Peters Canyon Rd., Irvine, Calif. – is the headquarters for Kia Motors America.

    Hashtag: #spacebabies

    Click here to watch the advertisement. (Kia Motors America)

  • Hyundai

    The story: Hyundai will present four ads for three models during Super Bowl XLVII. While the Genesis advert rehashes classic competition-beating tropes, the two spots for the Santa Fe – one featuring the Flaming Lips – are refreshingly good-humoured and family-focused, and the Sonata ad’s crack at motorcyclists’ expense is well played.

    Pub fact: Four ads might seem excessive, but the Korean automaker is no Bowl arriviste: last year, three Hyundai commercials aired during the game.

    Hashtag: None.

    Click to watch the Genesis, Sonata and two Santa Fe advertisements. (Hyundai Motor America)