Even if the football is boring, the ads usually are not.
The Super Bowl is a curious and very American phenomenon. Every year, people that don't care for the sport will take a day to watch the annual event that decides America's football champions. Part of that is down to just how big of an event it is, and part is down to the half-time show that wheels out a couple of music icons to put on a short concert. This year you can look forward to hearing from Maroon 5, Travis Scott and Big Boi.
There is another intriguing aspect to the Super Bowl, and that's the advertising. Over the decades, the audience for the Super Bowl has grown so much that it's the biggest live American TV audience companies can buy advertising time for. For a long time now both national and international companies have gone all out to make the best commercial they can for the Super Bowl. As a result, there have been some sensational ad-breaks over the decades and some automotive companies have served up some excellent pieces of film.
With Super Bowl LIII between the LA Rams and New England Patriots coming up on Sunday, February 3, we thought it was a good time to share our favorites.
Volkswagen managed to serve up one of the cutest and funniest adverts of all time in 2011 while mixing in a huge slice of pop culture and highlighting the technology available in the Passat. It's also the ad considered to have been a turning point for Super Bowl advertising and brought on the idea of a campaign that includes trailers and social media leading up to the event. If you've never seen this advert before, we won't spoil it. Just hit play and enjoy creative advertising at its finest.
When Alfa Romeo decided to do 3 Super Bowl adverts in 2017, it was considered a strange choice as they had little presence as a brand having been away for so long. But, they went ahead and dropped one for the enthusiasts as well as the general public anyway. "Dear Predictable" is a thinly veiled dig at BMW while we see a Giulia Quadrifoglio speed through open roads and listen to that thriller of an exhaust note.
In 2008 Bridgestone used cutting edge special effects, cute animals, and a big dose of humor to let people know Bridgestone tires are designed to work when you really need them. This is one that still makes a lot of lists of funniest overall Super Bowl commercials and holds up well.
In 2016 Toyota took one of the big Prius stereotypes and turned it on its head with a smart and funny advert. In the self-deprecating advert, a Prius is used as the getaway car in a bank heist. The police chase that ensues goes onto be a viral phenomenon and the criminals achieve the status of folk heroes. Not everyone was thrilled with the ad given the obvious O.J. Simpson parallels, but it's one that lives long in the memory.
We're going back in the time machine for this one as it's a great advert and a great story. Pontiac actually commissioned a whole song to be written about the GTO's vacuum-operated exhaust system controlled by a dash-mounted control. Legend has it that the corporate suits at the top of Pontiac weren't impressed by the image the advert expressed, but any car enthusiast with a pulse enjoyed the sound of the GTO's exhaust cruising around.
In 2005, Ford made a controversial and, at first glance, counter-intuitive advert for the Mustang Convertible. However, it paid off for the laugh and the enduring memory of what can happen with the top down in the coldest of cold weather.
In 2016 Audi went all out to tug on the heartstrings with a spectacular and bittersweet advert for the R8. To top off the short film, Audi even dropped the cash for the rights to use "Starman" by David Bowie. We're not sure there's ever been a better attempt at comparing a car to a spaceship.
Audi loves sticking it to BMW and Mercedes, and this advert does that without shame. In this Super Bowl ad from 2009, Jason Statham is in a familiar role trying to evade capture through the decades in different brands of cars. Of course, he is only successful when he drives an Audi A6.
Nobody delivers a monologue like Christopher Walken. And nobody, absolutely nobody, could deliver a monologue using a sock puppet like Christopher Walken. Kia delivered a killer advert here in 2016 in an attempt to change the public perception of Kia cars while delivering a fundamental truth: Nobody wants to be devoured like beige socks.
In 2011 Mercedes introduced its new range in style and with substance. The ad takes us through the History of Mercedes car without using the cliche of a flashback and just enough of a taste of Janis Joplin's song "Mercedes-Benz" to remind us what an earworm it is.
When General Motors asked for filmmakers to submit ads for their consumer-generated-ad contest, Chevy chose a submission by then 26-year old Long Island resident Zach Borst. The ad shows how enthusiastic some people are about the Chevrolet brand as the penny drops for the viewer as to what's actually happening.
Nissan's 2015 advert tugged heart strings while playing on its racing heritage to the soundtrack of Harry Chapin’s iconic "Cat’s In the Cradle.” The short film depicts the rise of a racing driver and the struggle to balance work and family while him and the child's mother raise their son. If Nissan hasn't tugged enough on your heartstrings with this, at the same time they donated $1,000,000 to Habitat for Humanity and the Wounded Warrior Project.