The American Football League finals are over – and over 100 million viewers in the US alone watched the spectacle in Florida’s Hard Rock Stadium. This event deserves our attention not only for the sports: for many years, a battle has been raging for the best, funniest and most sophisticated ads designed to complement the football circus.
This year, beyond the usual contributions from companies such as Amazon, Google or the detergent Tide, it even got political. First, billionaire media mogul Michael Bloomberg bought a slot dedicated to Donald Trump’s gun rights policy, and the US President countered with two clips of his own.
Still, the most fascinating contributions came from the auto industry. Produced with enormous effort budget, we saw ads from – in alphabetical order – Audi, Genesis, Hummer, Hyundai, Kia, Jeep, Porsche and Toyota. Here’s our take.
Audi: No traffic for EVs
Doll-like actress Maisie Williams of “Game of Thrones” fame is stuck in a traffic jam with her Audi e-tron Sportback, surrounded by decidedly more cool muscle cars from the 70s and 80s. The outside temperature: “Eight degrees above normal.” Perhaps this is the fault of those internal combustion engines? In any case, Maisie has enough: intoning the unbearably kitschy song “Let it Go” from the Disney flick “Frozen,” she bolts out of traffic, heading to another place where apparently far fewer people are heading. “Let’s drive to a more sustainable future,” Audi lectures us at the end. Thanks, we’ll stick to the muscle cars.
Genesis: A beautiful departure
Stuck at a stuffy party, supermodel Chrissy Teigen is fed up with “old luxury” and seizes the opportunity to call out some of its protagonists – such that woman with botox lips or that other one who was in Asia and now considers herself “spiritual.” But alas, her husband, R&B singer John Legend, doesn’t show up in time to make the desired counterpoint. When he finally pulls up in his new Genesis GV80, Chrissy just can’t get upset at her sexy companion: off they go, leaving “old luxury” behind. A funny spot with a great car. But the question remains: What, exactly, is the automotive equivalent of “old luxury”? Audi and Mercedes-Benz, or rather the Hyundai Equus?
Hummer: Fake numbers from GM?
Absolute dominance: That’s the message of Hummer, GM’s brand with the politically incorrect military background. Henceforth, Hummer will be electric, and the ad tells us we need not worry: 1000 PS, 11 500 lb-ft (almost 15 600 Nm) of torque, 0 to 60 mph in 3 seconds, all of it delivered in eerie silence. “All electric, zero emissions, zero limits,” basketball legend LeBron James asserts in a voice that doesn’t tolerate contradiction. This ad’s aesthetics are dark and monochrome. Which stands in stark contradiction to the amusement the automotive community as it is poking at Hummer for its, modestly put, interesting claim that the truck will indeed make 11 500 lb-ft of torque. Perhaps at the wheel, having been channeled through a transmission, but not at the motor. E-mobility seems to rely on fake news, for the time being.
Hyundai: Hyundai Sonata with an Accent
The parking space is small and neither the friends on the sidewalk nor the dog believe that the new Hyundai Sonata will actually fit in. But the driver proves everyone wrong: using the remote control, his car works itself into the tiny gap, thanks to Hyundai’s “Smart Park” system. The spot is set in Boston, the four protagonists all have real-life ties to it, and the copy is presented in a broad Boston accent: “Smaht Pahk.” Fun, although that special connection between Hyundai and Boston remains a mystery. Still, a nice ad for an elegant car, which unfortunately will not be available in Europe.
Kia: Get out the handkerchief
Guiding the new Kia Seltos through grim neighborhoods, football player Josh Jacobs, who grew up in homelessness, wonders aloud what advice he would give to himself as a child. Sure enough, his younger self appears – and gets treated to calendar wisdoms: Be harder, challenge yourself. This is exactly what Jacob did – without any time travel, which is why he is one of the most successful soccer players in the USA today and should not have to drive a Kia Seltos. The connection between Jacob and the shockingly conventional crossover SUV remains a mystery.
Jeep: An ancient movie reference
It’s Groundhog Day: Jeep re-enacts the iconic film, almost three decades old, in which actor Bill Murray is doomed to relive the same day until he becomes a better person. In the one-minute Super Bowl variant of the ancient movie, the new Jeep Gladiator makes sure Murray is looking forward to every day. We’re not sure he becomes a better person by drifting through the snow sideways, but the ad is funny and will surely prompt the boomer generation to get out the VCR again.
Porsche: The unbeatable Taycan
The Porsche Taycan is so quiet that the robbery in the Porsche Museum goes unnoticed until the last moment. Then hell breaks loose: The multicultural and nonstereotypical assembly of security officers immediately sets off in a phalanx of Porsche’s greatest cars in order to catch the fugitive sedan. But of course, no other Porsche ever built is faster than the Taycan, which is why only a roadblock can stop it. At this point, it emerges that the chase is just a fun routine by the security team, staged for their individual and collective pleasure. The battery charge is sufficient for a happy return trip, while the quiet Taycan is aurally drowned out by deafening music.
Toyota: Heroic feats
A detonating chemical plant, a farmer’s family attacked by bandits, a fearsome monster: in each of these scenarios, a hero prepares to sacrifice himself because there is no more space in the last escape vehicle, be it a fire truck, a horse or a snowmobile. But each time, an unexpected rescue appears – in the form of a Toyota Highlander: “I have space,” the middle-aged female behind the wheel says with a smile. In the last scene, she “rescues” her own son, who just sacrificed his taxi seat on a rainy night: “Get in, Brian,” mommy says. You never know what the abundant space in this SUV is good for. It’s a fun ad.