A healthy chunk of us watched the Super Bowl on Sunday, and some of us watched for the commercials. I watched because it involved going to a place where there was awesome brisket and hominy dip, but that’s neither here nor there. Since this is an auto enthusiast website, let’s not discuss the game but instead talk about some commercials! Specifically the commercials from the auto manufacturers. This year we had commercials from Kia, Hyundai, Honda, Acura, Mini, Buick, Toyota, Audi, and FCA. What were each of these manufacturers pushing, and who (or what) did they get to push whatever it is? LET’S FIND OUT TOGETHER! And then let’s rate them on a scale from 1-10. Sound good? Great!
Full Disclosure: I missed the first quarter, and was far more concerned with wolfing down food than with what was going on on the screen. With the exception of Kia, Mini and Honda, this is the first time I’m seeing these commercials.
Let’s start with
They’re pushing the new Optima with Christopher Walken and sock puppets! OOO, look how shiny and not like any other mid-sized sedan it is! Except it kinda looks like a Camry, and that interior doesn’t look THAT amazing. But I do appreciate the dig they’re taking at everyone else. Buying a mid-sized sedan is a lot like choosing socks: you just pick something that won’t stand out, and go on about your day. Some options are more boring than others, but at the end of the day we’re talking about socks. The things that keep your feet warm and dry, and comfortable in your shoes. They don’t need to be flashy, and wacky sock guy isn’t a great guy to be. I EXPRESS MY PERSONALITY THROUGH MY SOCKS! ZABOW!!! Please don’t be that guy, or be that guy and let me hurl grapefruits at you. Either or.
And was anyone else hoping Christopher Walken was going to break out his monologue from Pulp Fiction? It wouldn’t have been nearly as marketable, but it would’ve been the best commercial in twenty-years.
They had four ads this year!
In the first one, titled The Chase, a pair of hikers (a guy and a gal) are being chased through the woods by two Grizzly Bears. Thinking quickly, the guy speaks into his smart watch, and the 2017 Elantra fires up. They hop in, and escape the bears. Hooray! But then the bears are given some dialogue, and I am suddenly overcome by the desire to burn whoever green lit that idea at the stake. Why do I want to revive the practice usually reserved for witches? You saw the vegan joke, right? I rest my case.
The second ad is titled Ryanville, and features two ladies driving down a suburban street where every man they see is noted Canadian Ryan Reynolds. He’s riding a bike. He’s giving and receiving a traffic ticket. He’s an entire construction crew. He’s playing five on five football with nine other Ryan Reynoldses, one of whom seems way too aggressive for this being a simple pick up game. I believe this to be the “evil” clone.
The women swoon and gawk, and damn near hit Ryan Reynolds the dog walker. Thankfully for them (the world at large really), their Elantra has whatever they’re calling their collision avoidance and automatic braking system. The world will have more Deadpool appearances, which makes this a much better world to live in.
First Date: Kevin Hart’s daughter goes on a date with a boy who may have nefarious intentions. Kevin is reasonably concerned, so he let’s them take his Genesis 5.0. The Genesis is equipped with Car Finder, which he uses to stalk the couple. He’s at the movie they go to, he’s hiding in a pile of stuffed animals at the midway on the pier, and he shows up on a ladder hanging underneath what looks like an AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter.
Their final spot was titled Better, and revolves around a boy who has a seemingly unique birth defect (condition? abnormality?): he has a V8 that produces a blue light protruding from his chest. We see him go from baby, to toddler, to elementary school (where he knows how many moons Saturn has and can play Galaga like a pro), to high school (where he ignores his friend and talks to some attractive female classmates), to college (where he burns the midnight oil in the library), to post collegiate life (where he enjoys fitness and helping the elderly). And then we see where he works, and who he works with. The where appears to be a Hyundai design studio, and the who are other people with THE SAME ENGINE THING ON THEIR CHESTS! Turns out that the engine is a metaphor. “Better is the engine that drives us,” says Paul Rudd, who did the voice over work in all of the Hyundai spots. We then see the intrepid lad looking at a concept vehicle that he penned. Is Hyundai better than they were before? Definitely. Are they better than most of their competitors? Well, they’re better than enough of them to remain a relevant player.
Score: 7. Blame the bears and the engines, praise Kevin Hart and Ryan Reynolds.
In the third quarter is where America was introduced to the new 2017 Honda Ridgeline, which looks like an Odyssey that had everything behind the C-pillar cut off and replaced with a truck bed. In this ad we have a farmer transporting sheep, a handful at a time, to a pasture for grazing. We can hear Queen’s Somebody to Love playing from the truck as the farmer unloads what has to be his twentieth load of sheep. He drives off, and the sheep start singing the classic song. They stop when the farmer, and three more sheep, return. And it’s here that we find out why the sheep are singing Queen: because of the truck bed audio system that’s an option on the new Ridgeline! I can understand how this could be a useful feature, but I’m not 100% sure I get how it went from a note in a focus group to a thing that you can get on your truck. Anyway, the farmer drives away and the sheep begin singing again. Then we see the truck in front of a barn, and hear a voice over talking about the truck bed audio. The camera slides over to reveal that the farmer’s dog is delivering the lines. After seeing this ad, I noticed the four dogs running around the room. I felt a sudden wave of melancholy wash over me, and I went back for more brisket and chicken nuggets.
Score: 6. Any other song, and this would’ve been scored much lower.
Acura was pushing the 2017 NSX, something they’ve been doing for four years now. Instead of having Jerry Seinfeld, noted Porsche fan, trying to get the first NSX (something he didn’t do in the 2012 ad, and something he didn’t do this year), they released a 30 second version of a longer commercial they released a week before! They show the car going from a block of aluminum to a car via all the processed that are necessary to go from block of aluminum to car, with Runnin With The Devil playing in the background. While not a bad commercial, this is another one of the many odd steps Acura has taken during this whole NSX gestation period. Why undercut your Super Bowl commercial by releasing the minute long version a week before the game? I demand answers!
*pounds fist on table*
*Funko POP figures fall down*
OH MY GOD NO!!!!!!!!!
Score: 7 for the extended cut, 4 for this version. Seriously…
Several celebrities (take that with a grain of salt) hurl labels at the Minis. Tony Hawk, Abby Wambach, Randy Johnson, T Pain, Serena Williams, a little girl, Michael Whinnet, some racing drivers, and Harvey Keitel are all here to tell you that people who defy labels define themselves. And they also want you to buy a Mini Clubman, which I’m gonna go ahead and say don’t. For $29,000 there are better options, ones that don’t include a pillar running through the middle of your rear window.
By the way, does anyone remember Harvey Keitel driving an NSX in Pulp Fiction? Why can’t HE be pushing the NSX? Why, of all things, the Mini Clubman?
Score: 7.5. Who are some of these people??
Remember when we thought Buick was going to be cool again? While we have the Regal GS, we have to take things like the Cascada to get it. Is it a shorter Murano Cross Cabrio? A taller VW Eos? Whatever it is, it’s at a wedding and it’s criminally under vandalized. Seriously, who are these guests and why isn’t that thing filled with balloons, tissue paper, and other random crap? *annoyed grunt*
Since it’s a wedding, there HAS to be a bouquet toss. The bride throws the bouquet over the assembled women vying for the flowers, and one recreates an O’Dell Beckham Jr. catch. The bystanders remark on how Beckham Jr. like her catch was, then OBJ himself says that she was out of bounds. Adorably hilarious. Where’s that Avista sport coupe? MAKE IT HAPPEN PEOPLE!
Score: 5.5. Could’ve been worse, could’ve been a lot better though.
NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO! The only exciting Prii are not even really Prii. The entire time this commercial was playing, I was imagining running those idiots off the road. The day America falls in love from some bumbling idiots, running aimlessly from the cops in a Prius, is the day the fiery gates of Hell open up, and fire and brimstone fall from the sky and finish ruining our shit.
Score: Words cannot express how much I hate this commercial.
New R8? Good. Bowie’s Starman in the background? Amazing. A son using said R8 to reignite his former astronaut father’s interest in life?
This was the best commercial from the auto makers for this Super Bowl. I felt all of the feels.
Score: 11. IT’S JUST DUSTY IN HERE, OKAY?!?
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
FCA kept it all about Jeep, and it’s 75 year anniversary. The first one talks about all the things Jeeps have done in those 75 years, and the other talks about all the things they currently do because they’re Jeeps. No model in particular, just Jeep. These two fall short, especially when compared to the three stellar commercials to come out of the FCA camp in years past.
Score: 8. Not great compared to their previous entries, but stellar compared to most of the other ones.