Best and Worst Super Bowl Car Ads

Christopher Walken for Kia

Some assignments are just too good to pass up. Somebody needed to watch the current crop of automotive commercials for Super Bowl 50, and who better than me? I love cars. I love commercials. And I love sharing my opinion.

This isn’t an in-depth look at every single commercial. Rather it’s a quick critique of some of the best and some of the worst. In no particular order, except for the one I saved for the end, here are the best and worst automotive commercials for Super Bowl 50.

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The Three Worst Super Bowl Car Commercials

FIAT 500x Super Bowl ad

I heard that Pierce Brosnan would be in a Kia ad during the Super Bow, and I immediately thought, “Well, that’ll go down in history as the worst Super Bowl car ad ever.”

But it wasn’t. It was fantastic.

Then I saw the FIAT ad for the new 500X… and, well, I think it might have been the best Super Bowl car ad ever.

And so I got thinking… there have been a lot of great Super Bowl car ads. Every blog in the world has covered that. But what about the worst Super Bowl car ads? There were three of them yesterday.

Let’s take a look.

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Did You Like the Super Bowl Car Ads?


I didn’t think anything could have disappointed me while watching my hometown Seahawks dominate the Super Bowl. Every interception and touchdown filled me with glee, but each super-hyped automobile ad that rolled by stole a little of that cheer.

The car ads didn’t make sense. They were predictable. Even the surprise ads fell flat. On Friday I wrote that I hoped Chrysler would come through and save the day with an ad that would stop us in our tracks.

Chrysler did surprise us, as I’d hoped, but the ad with Bob Dylan failed to impress. In fact, it left me feeling like the company just gave up and used an old formula. Not only did the message lose my attention, Dylan looked moments away from passing out as he said, “Let Germany brew your beer, let Switzerland make your watch, let Asia assemble your phone. We will build your car.”

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Family: The Big Trend in Car Commercials

Every ad agency loves to do car commercials, and why not? Big bucks and a chance to do some real “creative” that gets national, sometimes international, exposure.

The fact that most car ads are either obvious, pushy or sappy testifies not just to a lack of agency creativity but the typically uninspired taste of management. Once in a while, you get some breakthroughs.

Lately, the theme of family has become a big one in car ads. The classic example is The Force ad (above) for the VW Passat, which went viral after the Super Bowl and had 45,248,798 YouTube views at last count. This is a great ad, which appeals through the age-old use of kids to sell product.

But it’s more than that. The Star Wars theme is reinforced by the family setting, which gives power to the powerless. Most of the family car ads I’ve seen use that kind of device, notably Subaru’s Baby Driver ad, which you’ll see after the break, and others that use animals, like VW’s Polo ad with the singing dog.

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