This Sunday night, Russell Wilson and Peyton Manning will duke it out in New Jersey’s Meadowlands as the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos fight for NFL supremacy in Super Bowl XLVIII. While millions will watch to find out who will take home the Lombardi Trophy, even more will tune in to witness what are widely considered to be the year’s best commercials.
Year after year, Budweiser has reigned supreme as the undisputed king of Super Bowl commercials. That being said, car manufacturers are making serious inroads in the Super Bowl advertising game. While we wait to see what car makers will come up with this year (Volkswagen and Audi have already released some pretty hilarious commercials online), we thought we’d take a look back at our favorite car commercials from Super Bowls past.
10. In at the tenth spot is the Ram 1500 with a commercial that has won wide critical acclaim since Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens put away the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII. While the commercial is, quite simply, brilliant from an advertising standpoint, we rank it tenth for the fact that it doesn’t show much of what Rams can do. It plays on history and emotion, as farming and pickup trucks have been immensely important in building America, but it doesn’t show us anything about how far Ram has come in the last few years. That being said, it is beautiful in its simplicity and takes us back to a time when pickup trucks were meant for work, a time when pickup trucks did not have heated, massaging leather seats, a time when a pickup truck was a pickup truck.
9. In the run-up to Super Bowl XLIV, one of the football world’s biggest questions was whether Brett Favre would return for another season. Playing off the confusion, Hyundai produced an awesome commercial for the Hyundai Sonata. By using Favre’s uncertainty to tout the certainty of its 10-year warranty, Hyundai created an upbeat and satirical commercial that got through to a lot of football fans. Fair warning: If you’re a Green Bay Packers fan, this commercial probably isn’t for you.
8. The Volkswagen GTI is a car designed for young people. It’s cool, fast and just a bit quirky. Like the GTI, our next favorite commercial was also meant for young people. Let’s be honest—anyone over 25 when it aired probably didn’t get it. Back in 2006, MTV’s Pimp My Ride was all the rage amongst young people. Playing off Xzibit’s hit TV show, Volkswagen destroyed cars like the ones tricked out on the show to illustrate that its GTI was better, much better. While we’re certainly in favor of the free expression the show’s cars promoted, we’d much rather have a GTI.
7. The Audi R8 is without a doubt an exceptional car, and last year Audi produced an exceptional Super Bowl ad to go along with it. Drawing inspiration from The Godfather, Audi took the R8 and turned it into a modern-day version of Tom Hagen, Vito Corleone’s adopted son. We don’t want to give away too much of the commercial, because you should see it for yourself, but like one of the film’s most famous scenes, it ends with a smug villain making a clean getaway, this time with a little motor oil on its tires.
6. What’s the most excited you’ve ever been after getting a gift? Chances are, you’d be pretty darn excited if someone gave you a Chevrolet Camaro. Then-26-year-old Zach Borst used that excitement to win the Chevrolet Route 66 contest, meaning Chevy would air a film he made as a commercial during Super Bowl XLVI, but let’s not talk about Super Bowl XLVI. If you’re curious about the commercial’s twist, let’s just say that after the game, all of New England sympathized with the not-so-happy grad.
5. It takes a while to find “the one.” After years and years of searching, a person might, if they’re lucky, meet the perfect car. Ford, however, bet during Super Bowl XXXVIII that anyone who drove the Ford GT would immediately find that it was “the one.” The commercial is fantastic for its simplicity. No gimmicks, no celebrity cameos—just a car, a track and the beautiful sound of a supercharged V8.
4. Remember all the hype about the world ending in 2012? Chevrolet was pretty sure it wouldn’t, but just to be safe, ran an ad for the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 during Super Bowl XLVI. The clever ad features biblical allusions and boldly caps things off by taking a direct shot at Ford. In fact, Ford was so incensed with the spot that it sent Chevy a cease-and-desist letter the day of the game. Chevy CMO Joel Ewanick took it in stride and issued a hilarious response: “We can wait until the world ends, and if we need to, we will apologize. In the meantime, people who are really worried about the Mayan calendar coming true should buy a Silverado right away.” If you want to see why Ford was so upset, take a look at the video above. Regardless, it’s one of the funniest, most clever and most effective commercials of recent memory. Now if only someone had ordered Lawrence Tynes to cease and desist kicking field goals that day.
3. Okay, enough about the New York Giants. The dark side may not have made it to Super Bowl XLV, but the Empire did show up to make a statement for the Volkswagen Passat. Largely considered one of the best Super Bowl ads of all time, Volkswagen’s 2011 ad utilizes everything that people love: childhood, Star Wars and cars. It wraps it all up into a cute, 1-minute commercial that’s become the most-shared Super Bowl commercial ever. Racking up over 59 million views on YouTube, it looks like Darth Vader would have found more followers if he had abandoned his Death Star in favor of a Volkswagen.
2. Our runner-up pick features two of the world’s most famous car guys. Following Jerry Seinfeld in his quest to own the first reincarnation of the Acura NSX, the ad features Seinfeld trying to woo the man Acura already promised the car to. While some of his antics are a little over the top, we can’t say we blame him. After all, Acura has stated that it aims for the new NSX to offer “the excitement of the [Ferrari] 458 at the price of the [Porsche] 911.” With that kind of bang for the buck, we’ll be lining up to get the first one from Seinfeld… if he’s successful in his bid, that is. We’re not going to spoil the rest of the ad, but just wait to see what happens when a certain someone shows up. Yeah, our faces would look like Jerry’s too if that happened.
1. While the Chrysler 200 may not attract the same attention as its big brother, the Chrysler 300, or offer the same performance prowess as its cousin, the SRT Viper, it is by all means an important car from a very important city. That is exactly what Chrysler went for in its Super Bowl XLV commercial. Without a doubt, Chrysler nailed it, using this spot to kick off its much-acclaimed “Imported from Detroit” campaign. Featuring legendary Detroit rapper Eminem and paying homage to Detroit’s past while looking forward to its future, the spot is nothing short of emotional, evoking vivid memories of a time when Detroit ruled the car world. The spot may be a few years old now, but its powerful message still resonates. The best news? The 200 has been dramatically improved since that commercial aired, and the redesigned model, set to go on sale next year, is reported to be one of the best cars Chrysler has turned out in a long time. If that proves true, consider importing one from Detroit.
What’s your favorite Super Bowl car commercial ever?