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Welcome to the Fourth Annual ‘He Said, She Said’ Super Bowl Automotive Ad Analysis! I can’t believe Chris Baccus and I started this roundup for SB44 in 2010. Back then, we were pretty much the only people writing an analysis on the car commercials. Our team up remains one of the most anticipated blog posts each year for both of us.
This year, we had a special guest help us tee up America’s favorite sporting event. We had excellent pre-game coverage thanks to Liza Smith of Homadge, a blog about ads she likes. Liza dished here ahead of the Big Game.
Want to know more about Chris Baccus? He leads digital in the Western Region for an array of clients at GolinHarris in Los Angeles, Calif. Chris loves cars, his twin boys, quality gas station tacos, and great home-cooked recipes (quite possibly in that order!). He writes about all three here: The Auto Marketing Blog, Sustainable Dad, and Gas Station Tacos.
I have to be honest. This year’s lineup of car commercials didn’t get me as excited as in years past. Part of this was the reduced number of automakers making their debut. The other reason is I saw almost every ad in full before the game. But nevertheless, here’s our analysis on the car commercials of Super Bowl 47. Enjoy!
Super Bowl 47 Automotive Ad Analysis – “He Said, She Said” with Chris Baccus
Lincoln “#SteerTheScript” | View commercial
HE SAID: The Lincoln ad confused in many ways due to an idea starting with tweets to Jimmy Fallon about road trips, yet Fallon wasn’t in the ad, even as a narrator. Not that one has to be that literal, but it lacked a flow. Almost like Twitter does when people are all tweeting about different things. For a moment, the Lincoln ad felt Twitter-ish. Random. Disconnected. Confusing. Too bad, because the Lincoln MKZ is an amazing car that’s debut video was interesting and made you pause and say “That’s a Lincoln?” And that is exactly how the Super Bowl audience should’ve felt.
SHE SAID: What Chris said… Plus, not everyone know who Jimmy Fallon is by name. Why would he tweet asking people to share/make up stories with their Lincoln? This was a poorly executed crowd-sourced, social-media-centric Super Bowl ad.
Lincoln MKZ “Phoenix” | View commercial
HE SAID: The “Phoenix” Lincoln ad has had some play before the Super Bowl so I don’t consider it a Super Bowl ad, but it was a good addition after the Twitter ad that helped to showcase this nicely executed car.
SHE SAID: I had to go back and watch this one to see the former President’s pseudo cameo. I’m really not getting this ad. It’s a bit cheesy to me. With so much American symbolism it feels forced. Although my colleague, an Abe Lincoln aficionado, would disagree. This was her favorite ad of the night.
Mercedes-Benz “Soul” | View commercial
HE SAID: The evening’s celebrity paid kitchen sink ad goes to Mercedes-Benz. It’s a cornucopia of celebrity appearances that tell the story of how amazing life will be if one signs their soul over to the devil, played by William Dafoe.
The ad isn’t bad in the sense that it does give us just enough beauty shots to showcase how compelling the CLA could be in the entry-level luxury category. A more affordable CLS is a smart move and could give Mercedes a nice bump in volume sales. Fortunately, the ad does enough to entice intrigue and while the celebrity cameos are enough to fill a movie like Film 43, they seem necessary in only one way to be more interesting for a Super Bowl audience. Go big or go home, right?
SHE SAID: Melanie has a “bye” on this one. Instead, let’s hear what our friend Liza thought when this ad leaked:
Really not sure how I missed this one! I hear Jon Hamm and my ears perk up IMMEDIATELY. I mean, can we talk about how he is the best spokesperson OF ALL TIME? Sorry for all the caps; I digress.
So back to the Super Bowl. I don’t know how I missed “Diner” for Mercedes. I love the music and simply, I love the tease. I want to see more. And of course, I want more Hamm. Please and thank you. Read more and watch the ads here.
Audi “Prom” | View commercial
HE SAID: This is everything the Mercedes-Benz CLA ad wish it could be. It’s a similar theme. Luxury car changes one’s life in dramatic ways. Yet here Audi does it with the car as the celebrity, not a bunch of overpaid cameos. Plus it’s a fantasy many a man can relate to, if only we had enough confidence to be bold and brave enough to plant one on the prom queen. That would’ve been a memory for the record books. I personally blame my parents for owning a Nissan Sentra, not an Audi 5000 (there was no S8 when I was a kid.)
SHE SAID: This spot was for the S6, but Edmunds.com said it drove tons of search traffic for the S8. I was surprised at how well received this ad was – the Twittersphere went wild. I think it was definitely geared toward regular guys and the stress they go through to look cool for prom. It’s the one night teenage guys are entrusted with their parents’ fancy cars. My prom date picked me up in his dad’s BMW 745Li.
Kia “Space Babies” | View commercial
HE SAID: Kia’s ad is definitely the family favorite of the evening. It was the only automotive ad where my kids actually paid attention and laughed. Who doesn’t like watching a baby hit the atmosphere with cheeks a jiggling? The ad connects a product feature, voice activated music, with something any parent can relate to – that moment when your child learns too much at the playground.
SHE SAID: You can’t go wrong with this ad. It combines two certainties in life – your children asking the dreaded “Where do babies come from?” question and you having to field it. Kudos to Kia for being creative but (somewhat) within the realms of reality. It shows imagination. Another dad gets to be cool in the ad, coming up with the most creative explanation ever. Um, and for other automakers reading this – we need more baby pandas!
Toyota Rav4 “Wish Granted” | View commercial
HE SAID: Chris has a “bye” on this one. Here’s what our pre-game guest blogger, Liza, had to say:
Oh, Toyota. You made an excellent choice with Kaley Cuoco, but this ad… not feeling it.
I’ll take Miss Cuoco as my BFF personal genie (and listen to “I Wish” on repeat) any day, but the choices for each scene feel so done before.
“I wish” they would have just run the teaser ad instead.
Which did you like better – the full commercial or the teaser spot?
SHE SAID: With the Super Bowl being run on CBS this year, I can’t help but wonder if Kaley Cuoco’s appearance did more for the network (Big Bang Theory) than for Toyota. My favorite part was when the guy’s first wish was to get rid if the spare tire. I think the RAV4 engineers may have had something to do with that wish.
Ram Truck “Farmer” | View commercial
HE SAID: My favorite of this Super Bowl came in the 4th Quarter. Much like the game that didn’t really get started until the last half, here comes Ram Trucks with a beautifully concepted commercial that showcases the American Farmer with gorgeous photography and sharing the great speech from Paul Harvey back in 1978 at the FFA Convention called “God Made a Farmer.” Perhaps, it’s the merging of farm, food and automotive but it had the most memorable impression out of all the ads from tonight’s game.
SHE SAID: I’m with Chris here. Best ad of the night. Ram did a superb job reminding Americans about the farmers of our great nation. My great grandfather was a farmer in Western N.C., so this ad definitely resonated with me. I grew up appreciating the hard work of the country life and was glad to be reminded of the sacrifices farmers make every day through moving photographs and poetic word’s revived once again.
Hyundai Sonata “Stuck” | View commercial
HE SAID: Nothing like starting your Super Bowl ad with some ass crack. This ad is an ode to getting stuck behind some bad situations. It conjured up a moment back when I was 16 driving in my Ford Granada honking at a small car in front of me that didn’t move for what felt like a minute when the light had been green. The person started to move and then the passenger proceeded to through baby diapers out the window trying to hit my car. Sadly I can relate to “Stuck” and I’m sure others can too. It’s a fine ad, but like all the Hyundai ads it didn’t below anyone away like a Super Bowl spot should.
SHE SAID: I’ve never had diapers thrown at me, but I have suffered through some pretty awful “stuck” moments. The worst had to be getting caught behind an eighteen-wheeler truck full of live chickens. There were feathers everywhere. It was summertime and it smelled to high heaven. Did I mention we were on a two lane road with no passing? For. Miles. And. Miles.
Hyundai “Epic Playdate” | View commercial
HE SAID: Best ending to an ad goes to Hyundai’s “Epic Playdate” staring The Flaming Lips. Whoever selected The Flaming Lips also knew what would be cool and still connects with Gen-X and older millennial buyers at the same time. Nothing here is amazing; however, it is a highly likeable ad with some great music and I’m personally a sucker for anything with skateboarding lately after watching the documentary “Bones Brigade” far too many times that I’ve lost count.
SHE SAID: I like the creativity of this ad and the forward motion it provides with the music and action. It plays to Gen X like Chris said, without really alienating only one age bracket. Similar to VW’s wildly successful “Darth Vader” storyline a few years ago, I think Hyundai was trying to achieve that same cool Dad factor here.
Hyundai “Team” | View commercial
HE SAID: Good ad with a decent concept, appropriate mix of attitude and humor, but in the end it does not standout in a sea of Super Bowl ads. Not a lot else to say.
SHE SAID: Like a mashup of “Little Rascals” and the “A Team,” this ad made me chuckle. At first, however, I thought the kid told him to come back when he had a tan. I suppose it was the influence of that horridly brown Santa Fe in the background.
VW “Get In. Get Happy.” | View commercial
HE SAID: In some odd way, the Jamaican accent and the Minnesota accent became one for just a second and that made me happy. Sure this ad has received the most buzz before the Super Bowl with a NPR report already asking is the ad racist. It’s debatable. I’m more interested in was it a great ad from the company with the Super Bowl win with last year’s “The Force.” Sadly, no. This ad felt more like a beer or chip ad than a win for VW. Plus it didn’t connect in an universal way like prior VW commercials.
SHE SAID: When I watch the teaser immediately before the full ad then I like this commercial. I think there was a lot of unnecessary fuss over this spot because VW allowed there to be a clear disconnect between Jimmy Cliffthe eternally positive man behind the “Bright Sunshiny Day” song and the voice of its ad’s main character. I either way, I think they were trying to win back some of their 1960s and 70s owners with the overall theme.
Kia Forte “Hotbots” | View commercial
HE SAID: This was more creepy than hot then quickly confirmed by a Hotbot kicking the crap out of the target consumer. I get it with the “Respect the Tech” tagline at the end. It just lacked humor and charm like so many of the best Super Bowl do. This one will definitely get missed by most Super Bowl ad wrap-up articles.
SHE SAID: Um, what just happened? Is this another sequel to Austin Powers?
Jeep “Whole Again” | View commercial
HE SAID: Starting with an Oprah quote and images of families showing beautiful family moments had me checked out about 20 seconds into this spot. I looked up again and noticed all of the soldiers and didn’t even notice this was a Jeep ad until I was back on Twitter seeing a few people talk about “the Jeep ad.” What Jeep ad? It was a beautiful USO ad and yes Jeep has played a role for many years supporting the organization, which is fabulous. How it does as an automotive ad is tough. It is a good corporate responsibility ad that I’m sure does lift the brand in many eyes. In that way it was a hard spot not to like though it was not as memorable as past Chrysler efforts.
SHE SAID: Oprah, as beloved as she is, can be a polarizing figure. I would have liked to have heard her voice throughout the commercial and then see her quote at the end instead. This would have helped the audience have a more open mind as they watched the ad. Other than that, I think Jeep and USO were brilliant here. I definitely was moved by the storyline and the music score they paired with it. As a violinist, I was more moved by the selection of Hans Zimmer’s ‘Honor’ from the theme song for HBO’s The Pacific series.
Next Post: Choose your own Audi prom adventure