09th Feb2016

Let’s Rate the Automaker’s Super Bowl Commercials

by Michael Chandler

Supercharged S2000 feature Michael Chandler CAMautoMag-4

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

Kia:

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.

Score: 6.5

Hyundai:

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.

Honda:

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:

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…

Mini

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??

Buick

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.

Toyota

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.

Audi


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.

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMautoMag.Com and their respective owners.
16th Sep2014

2014 Utah Grand Prix Day 1

by Michael Chandler

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Words and photos by Michael Chandler

When Miller Motorsports Park released their 2014 schedule many, many months ago, I saw the Utah Grand Prix in September.  You remember Trent went to it years ago and got some very cool shots.  Well, now was my turn.  So I put in my application for credentials a few months in advance… And was told by John Gardener, the Marketing Communications Manager at Miller Motorsports Park, that I needed to resubmit them when the event was about a month out and that I wouldn’t have any issues getting credentials.  So I waited some more, resubmitted and was granted them!  I was going to my first big boy event, where there would be very serious photographers and big name manufacturers.  The scale of the event didn’t really hit me until the night before, when I felt like a very small fish in a very large pond.

I’m getting ahead of myself, and side tracked.  First, let’s talk about exactly what the Utah Grand Prix is.  This year there was NASCAR K&N West Series racing (which you’ll see in part two of this), Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy racing (All Porsche 911s, all of the time), Miller GT and United States Touring Car Championship (Your local favorites and the USTCC field running all at once), and finally Pirelli World Challenge Championship racing.  AKA SCCA World Challenge, this is the other big sports car racing series in the US.  This event was also a make up for the rained out opening round, and the season finale!  Championships were on the line!  And for those staring blankly at the screen, wondering what World Challenge is, here’s a break down:

GT/GTA/GTS

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Ahh, Grand Touring.  The Gentlemanly auto racers.  Actually, it’s mostly sports cars of varying degrees.  As we reported, World Challenge will let you run FIA GT3 spec cars in GT and GTA, which is why you see the Bentley Continental GT3 bearing down on the GTS class Kia Optima.  GT and GTA is the home of the GT3 cars (Continental GT3, McLaren MP4-12C GT3, Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia, etc) along with Cadillac CTS-V.Rs, the Acura TLX GT (which was wrecked in the previous race and wasn’t repaired in time for this one), and in genreral cars that were too much for GTS (Alex Loyd’s Corvette and Louis-Phillip Montour’s Dodge Viper).  GTS is home to more pedestrian entries, if you want to call them that.  Mustang Boss 302S’s, Nissan 370Zs, Chevrolet Camaros, and Porsche Caymans represent the majority of the field.  Also running in the class are the Kia Optimas and Aston Martin GT4s, with the Kias competing for the Manufacturer’s Title in class.

TC/TCA/TCB

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TC is short for Touring Car, and if you’ve ever watched any of European Touring Car series then you know how wild the econo boxes can be!  Sorry, sport “sedans”; although, as you can see the Skullcandy Altima is a coupe.  That’s neither here nor there.  TC and TCA is populated by small displacement rear wheel drive cars, like the Pontiac Solstice GXP Coupe and the venerable Mazda MX-5 Miata, and front wheel drive cars like Civic Si’s, Altimas and Jetta GLIs.  TCB is the land of the little B Spec cars, Honda Fits, Mini Coopers and Fiat 500s.  Armed with this knowledge, lets get on with this story.

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I had to be at the track early.  Not pre-dawn early, but early for someone who is usually ready to face the day at the crack of noon.  I arrived, got my wrist band and found a seat in the media center.  I chatted with Michael Wells, and finally met Chance Hales.  After the meeting, Chance, myself and Shawn Pierce, who shoots for NoBraking.com, piled in to my Subaru and made our way to some corners for the practice sessions of GT/A/S TC/A/B and Miller GT.

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By lunch we made our way half way around the track.  We formed a plan for the qualifying sessions and races, and made our way to the paddock.  I dropped them at the Media Center and made my way to RaceCo to chat with Cole Powelson and Kyle Schick, and meet up with Derrick Wolthoff of Makes and Models and TW Racing.  On the way I ran into George Smith, and asked him why he suddenly disappeared from the Miller GT session.  The crank sensor in his Corvette failed, and it was an all hands on deck effort to replace it.

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Eventually I made it to the Makes and Models garage just in time to tag along with Derrick to talk about getting some fuel from some people.  Those people happened to be Audi Customer Support Racing, Global Motorsports Group and Mike Skeen who was #2 in GT Driver’s championship.  While Derrick was conducting business, I wandered about the paddock and got some photos.  I would’ve stayed for more photos, but the next session was coming up quick so I had to get my car and grab Chance and Shawn.

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Not without getting a little sidetracked though.  The Black Swan Racing SLS AMG GT3 is the most gorgeous car in the field, hands down.  And the KPAX Racing McLaren MP4-12C GT3s have names: Reginald and Edward.  Why they’re named that is beyond me, but it led me to thinking of names for the Cadillacs and the Bentleys.  The Caddys are George and James, while the Bentleys are Lord Percival Umberbottom and Duke Albert Thistleton IV.  I didn’t ask either team if they would consider naming or changing the names of their cars, but I think Cadillac would’ve been a bit more receptive to the idea.

Anyway, Chance and Shawn decided they wanted to skip the next session, and go grab some food.  I agreed with this, and off we went.

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After lunch we made our way to Witchcraft and The Attitudes for the Pirelli GT3 Cup race, which had a healthy amount of local Drivers in it who had quite a showing.  David Donner, Alan and Desire Wilson, John Scarlett, Les Long and Darrell Troester all demonstrated what is meant by a home field advantage.  We stayed in the attitudes for the World Challenge GT qualifier, before making our way down to turn one for the start of the TC race.

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And what a start it was! In the opening lap Paul Holton in the #65 Shea Racing Honda Fit collided with, and almost drove over top of, the #58 Racing.ca Mini Cooper of Glenn Nixon.  Somehow Holton’s Fit was able to continue with the race.  The same could not be said for Nixon’s Mini.  Both drivers received Driver Conduct penalties, $1000 fines and lost 20 points each.  Holton finished 9th in class, and 22nd overall while Brian Price in the #51 Unlimited Racing/RP Performance Honda Fit finished first in TCB.  Adam Poland in the Eastex Motorsports MX-5 Miata took the TC class win, and Nic Jonsson took the TCA win in Russell Smith’s #38 Kinetic Motorsports Kia Forte Koup.  After the track was cleaned up, it was time for the GT race.

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Before I tell you about the race itself, I need to tell you something we were told in the media meeting.  We were told we couldn’t be on the pit wall for the beginning of the GT race.  Why? World Challenge does a standing start, like Formula 1 does.  Most of the time, this isn’t an issue but lately drivers stalling on the start has been a problem.  When a driver stalls, and is in the middle or front of the grid, everyone behind him has to take evasive maneuvers.  Sometimes these maneuvers result in collisions, which can send pieces of the cars flying.  So for our safety, we weren’t allowed on the pit wall for the start of the race.

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This was a good thing, because guess what happened.  The GTS Kias got into each other, and Mike Skeen broke an axle in his Audi R8 LMS Ultra.  Mike made it off track under his own power, but the Kias had to be towed off.  This immediately brought out the yellow flag and the safety car.  Since this was a timed race, some of the other photographers began getting worried/annoyed, which led me to cracking off a one liner.  It was not well received.  Anyway, the Kias were finally removed, and the green flag flew again.

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After watching the calamity of turn one iron itself out (everyone is trying to get around everyone else.  Remember the incident between the Fit and the Mini?), we made our way over to the Clubhouse to grab some photos of the final three turns, where more calamity ensued.

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An incident occurred as soon as we got to Clubhouse turn.  The #6 KPAX Racing McLaren MP4-12C of Robert Thorne got into the back of the #96 Capaldi Racing/Dat Dog Ford Mustang Boss 302S of Brad Adams, causing both cars to spin out right in front of the massive and massively fast Dyson Racing Bentley Continental GT3s and Cadillac Racing CTS-V.Rs.  Thankfully nobody else was involved in the spin.

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With Mike Skeen’s race over before it began the battle for the podium came down to two iconic luxury marques: Bentley and Cadillac.  Johnny O’Connell and Andy Pilgrim battled the Bentleys of Guy Smith and Butch Leitzinger for two of the top three spots.  When the dust settled, Guy Smith was atop the podium.  His Continental beat out O’Connell’s CTS-V.R by 3.47 seconds for the top spot.  It was very nearly a 1-2 finish for the Brits, but Johnny held Leitzinger off by less than 1/10 of a second!

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Michael Mills in the #41 Effort Racing Porsche 911 GT3R took the GTA class win, and without the class leading Kias in his way or Driver’s Championship leader Lawson Aschenbach’s Black Dog Speed Shop Camaro ZL1 to worry about Nick Esayian cruised to victory in GTS in his TRG-AMR North America Natural Cures Aston Martin GT4.

And that wraps up the first of two days I spent at the Utah Grand Prix.  Stay tuned for Day 2, which held the Pirelli World Challenge final races, the Miller GT race, and the NASCAR K&N West Series race!  Below are a few galleries, neatly organized by series.

World Challenge GT/A/S

World Challenge TC/A/B

Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy

Miller GT

 

*Article and Photos are copyright of CAMAutoMag.Com and their respective owners.