February 4, 2013

Super Bowl 2013 Car Ads

I didn't see the Super Bowl. So I didn't get to see all the drama that was the game, nor all the drama in the commercials that sponsors have placed in the game at stratospheric cost. Since we don't have TV, I will also mercifully be spared the endless re-runs of all those commercials.

But I do find commercials fascinating: the ad men have spent astounding amounts of resources to figure out our buttons, so that they can push them and make us do their bidding, even while making us think that buying this or that is all our own idea. Free choice, and all that, you know? The marketing machine is frighteningly effective, endlessly fascinating, and never to be underestimated. When we are traveling I make a point of turning on the hotel TV with the express purpose of checking out the ads. Because they offer a glimpse into the nation's psyche.

So after the game I went to the Superbowl Commercials site, where you can enjoy all the game ads without being distracted by the game itself. When you see the ads all in a row, a few themes emerge.

There is, of course, the usual "Drive this car, get the girl/guy" theme. No surprises there.

Angst gets played a lot. There's teen angst, naturally sex-related (Audi, "Prom"). There's midlife angst (Toyota RAV4 "Wish Granted") and end-of-life angst (Mercedes Benz CLA, "Soul"), that one complete with Rolling Stones audio. Heck, there's even parental angst (Kia Sorento, "Space Babies").

We also seem to be concerned about bullying. Obviously, the Hyundai Santa Fe "Team" ad is all about bullying, and so, to a lesser extent, is the Audi "Prom" ad. And then there's that weird beat-up-the-customer ad for the Kia Forte, "HotBots": what is that about?

Speaking of disconnect, the ad for the Lincoln MKZ, "Phoenix" , features an improbably clean sedan entirely unsullied by bird droppings. Still, with all the talk of the phoenix and the hawk, by the time it reaches the scene in the car factory, it's easy to mistake the robotic arms for chicken legs.

A few ads make a big impact simply by giving the emotional box a good shake. Like Budweiser's "Brotherhood" ad, and the one for Ram trucks, "Farmer". And the extended half-time ad for Jeep, "Home again".

I find most of these ads intensely tiring. They're over-the-top intense. I have an intense and adverse reaction to having my buttons pushed.

Maybe that's why my favourite ad of the 2013 Super Bowl is the one offered by cars.com, "Wolf". At a compact 32 seconds, it manages to be very funny in an understated way, and memorable without the visual assault nor the heaving emotions: that's the whole point of the ad: "All Drive, No Drama".

Cars.com, "All Drive. No Drama."




  1. Hi CelloMom. My favorite superbowl commercial was the "Farmers" commercial. I don't care about the truck, but I thought it sent a great message. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPREJDgTpSM

    1. The "Farmers" ad _was_ beautifully done, and Paul Harvey's speech very stirring. I agree with you, I may remember this one for a long time, even if I'll forget soon what it was for.


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