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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Place Your Bets! The Best Super Bowl Commercial Will Be…

Clint Eastwood Chrysler ad

I have a really hard time with the fact that most Super Bowl ads can be viewed online right now. I treasure the memories of Super Bowls past, when the Broncos were getting whooped by the 49ers, Redskins and Giants. I miss the times that Macintosh shocked the world with 1984 and Coke made us cry with Mean Joe Greene.

I miss the days when Super Bowl ads were surprises.

In these modern times, Super Bowl ads are promoted like movies, shown on YouTube and shared on Facebook with reckless abandon. By the time the game comes around, the ads are old news.

We know exactly what companies will advertise, and we know exactly what they are going to say. Where’s the fun in that?

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Ford Battles GM—Over Super Bowl Ad

Chevrolet's Super Bowl Silverado ad

In Mexico, where I watched the Super Bowl and drank mezcal with friends, ESPN cut away to Mexican ads, so I missed out on the much-ballyhooed car commercials. We watched stuff like DoveMenCare with only a quick shot of a Maserati.

But the U.S. ads were all online this morning, including the much-praised Chrysler-Clint Eastwood “inspirational” ode to Detroit, and most were frankly pretty asinine. I know, this will likely be a minority opinion.

The dumbest, by far, was Chevy’s end-of-the-world drama featuring the Silverado. (Anything featuring a Barry Manilow track in the background is bound to be bad.) As destruction reigns and frogs rain from the sky, only the Silverados survive. “Dave,” driving a Ford, didn’t make it, and the guys celebrate by eating Twinkies.

Ford made its own mistake by complaining and requesting that GM pull the ad. GM said no, and marketing chief Joel Ewanick had a field day crowing about the ad and giggling over Ford’s response, which, indeed, was whiny and accomplished nothing. Ford ran no Super Bowl ads, which, it acknowledged, had been a mistake.

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