If you’ve been dipping into the Autoblog
feed over the past days and weeks, you wouldn’t even have to be a sports fan to know the Super Bowl
is coming up. Automakers have been teasing their spots for the big game, dropping them days early, fully-formed onto the Internet and otherwise trying to amp up the multi-million-dollar outlays that they’ve made for air time on the biggest advertising day of the year.
And, we’re into it. The lead up to the Super Bowl is almost akin to a mini auto show around these parts; with automakers being amongst the most prolific advertisers on these special Sundays.
The crop of ads from 2015 looks as strong as ever, but we thought we’d take a quick look back at some of our favorite spots from the last five years. Take a look at our picks – created from a very informal polling of Autoblog editors and presented in no particular order – and then tell us about your recent faves, in Comments.
Chrysler, Imported From Detroit
Chrysler, Eminem and a lingering pan shot of “The Fist” – it doesn’t get much more Motown than 2011′s Imported From Detroit. With the weight of our staffers hailing from in and around The D, it’s no wonder that our memories still favor this epic Super Bowl commercial (even though the car it was shilling was crap).
Imported really set the tone for later Chrysler ads, too, repeated the formula: celebrity endorsement + dramatic copy + dash of jingoism = pulled car-guy heartstrings.
Mercedes-Benz, Soul teaser with Kate Upton
One of our favorite Super Bowl commercials (and yours, based on the insane number of views you logged) didn’t even technically air during the game.
Mercedes-Benz teased its eventual spot Soul with 90-seconds worth of Kate Upton threatening to do her best Joy Harmon impression. (Teaser indeed.) It doesn’t win points for cleverness, use of music, acting, or any compelling carness, but it proved that Mercedes’ advertisers knew how to make a splash in the Internet Age. And, hey, it’s still classier than every GoDaddy commercial.
Kia, A Dream Car. For Real Life
Like the Mercedes video above, the initial draw here is a pretty lady; in this case the always stunning Adriana Lima. But this Kia commercial really delivers the extra effort we expect while scarfing crabby snacks and homemades, too.
First of all, Mötley Crüe. Second, a cowboy on a bucking rhino. Enjoy yet again.
Chevrolet, Chevy Happy Grad
Created by a contest-winning young filmmaker rather than a slick Madison Avenue type, Chevy’s 2012 commercial boasted a funny plot that was bolstered by great comedic timing. The ad also does a fantastic job of praising the product, here a Camaro Convertible, without ever having to directly talk about the car.
Chrysler, Halftime In America
The second of an impressive set of entries for Chrysler brands on our list of favorite Super Bowl commercials, Clint Eastwood’s star-turn in Halftime also generated massive buzz at the time it aired. Playing on years’ worth of news cycles filled with job losses and economic gloom and doom, Eastwood’s gritty delivery of hope for the hardworking, seemed pitch perfect for the time, the event and the audience.
Volkswagen, The Force
One of the most-viewed commercial videos ever, VW’s tiny rendition of Darth Vader blended the adorable with the comic, and was pretty much universally praised as the top of its Super Bowl class.
Hell, you know a commercial is pretty good when – in a pristine imitation of the Star Wars franchise it traded on – it even spawned a sequel.
You author, like many of the Gen X generation, is just old enough to have caught the capstone years of Paul Harvey’s decades-long career in radio. With values straight from the heartland of the country, and a lyrical delivery of his own homespun prose, just a few words of Harvey’s voice are enough to send many listeners straight into the wayback machine.
Despite the fact that many people under 30 had likely never heard his name, the use of Harvey’s Farmer essay, overlaid with images of agrarian America, hit home. The spot had surprising emotional weight for a Super Bowl commercial, and was goose-bump-raising goodness for the downhome image of Ram trucks.
In typical long-form car commercials, the hero of the story drives the hero car. Jaguar turned that convention on its head with the lightly sinister Rendezvous, extolling the virtues of being a badass British brand in the process.
Great casting sold the concept, and the sultry lines and exhaust note of the F-Type sure didn’t hurt, either.
For a brand that had close to zero real consumer recognition (outside of our Italian-loving enthusiast community), the proposition of an ad pimping a car that most folks couldn’t even pronounce the name of seemed risky, at best.
But Maserati offered up a tone-setting, mysterious piece of film with Strike, and capped the menacing prose and evocative imagery with Ghibli’s growling engine note. Perfection.