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Reviewing the car commercials for Super Bowl LVI

Another year of Super Bowl, and another series of million-dollar budget commercials. Interested in what and how companies have spent such a large amount of money, I watched (almost) all commercials aired during Super Bowl and got many different impressions that I wanted to discuss. For this article, I will only cover ones that were done by car brands.

BMW iX, “Zeus & Hera”

  • Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Salma Hayek

The commercial features Zeus (known for his power related to lightning) and Hera (Zeus’s wife), who announce their retirement and decide to live ‘as an ordinary couple’ in Palm Springs, California. Zeus soon gets fed up with living in the human world, but then Hera shows up with a BMW iX (M60) and offers him to take her a ride. The two sing in joy while making the street lights green.

It is a fun and joyful commercial, with a focus to ‘Sheer (Electric) Driving Pleasure’ by Zeus showing pleasure in driving the all-electric BMW iX. But the issue is that this commercial doesn’t feel special – this kind of comedy is what I usually saw in Kia commercials about a decade ago.

BMW used to focus on their mechanical and performance factor, and describe how extraordinary it feels to drive one. But with the beginning of the days of electric vehicles, they seem overanxious with following the trend and focus on making laughter instead.

Seeing Zeus struggling in the modern human world could be funny. But what about driving? I believe it could’ve been much better when BMW showed Zeus subtly smiling and doing ‘epic things’ – like doing things he did in the mythologies – while driving the iX.

Kia EV6, “Robo Dog”

A robot dog, longing for love and affection, notices a Kia EV6 and gets interested in it. As the car moves away, the dog follows it by rushing through the city, and as the dog was just about to land on it by the sunroof… it runs out of battery and shuts down. Thankfully, the driver recharges it with EV6’s V2L feature, and the dog gets to enjoy the ride.

As the popular song “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” plays in the background, the commercial does a nice job of captivating the audience with an interesting story, a cute ‘animal’, and a showcase of EV6’s neat feature (along with Kia, collaborating with Petfinder Foundation, creating an augmented reality app to interact with that robot dog up close and raising awareness for pet adoption). So overall I would say this commercial adequately advertises and emphasizes the subject – Kia EV6.

Polestar 2, “No Compromises”

Polestar takes the minimalist approach for this commercial for the 2 and their roadmap. Showing the exterior of the 2 in many angles, they put ‘no’s in front of all the negative terms, events, and nonsenses, and then finish with showing the car and the word ‘No. 2’.

While it is good that Polestar won’t be into all the ‘dirty’ things in this current world and will only focus on all-electric cars, I can’t help feeling that they overspent just to say things they could’ve said at any time, any occasion. Knowing how many elements a 30-second commercial can have, this is wastefully minimalistic. Their saying of being a company that they will be unlike any other is bold, but then maybe they shouldn’t have followed the debated ‘oversimplification’ trend like any other for such an expensive spot…

…this was what I thought at first. I reconsidered about it and my thoughts have changed.

General Motors, “Dr. EV-il”

  • Starring: Mike Myers, Mindy Sterling, Rob Lowe, and Seth Green

Featuring the villains of Austin Powers, the commercial begins with Dr. Evil taking over the General Motors HQ who is planning to take over the world. But before he actually takes over the world, he learns that his son, Scott, now has a baby, and (before harming his son) gets strictly advised by Frau to save the world first. After conflicting with Scott for a little more, the team runs to the electric vehicles (Cadillac Innerspace concept, GMC Hummer EV, Chevrolet Silverado EV, Cadillac Lyriq, Brightdrop electric van) of the brands of General Motors, with Dr. Evil announcing “We’re going all-electric!”

Having Dr. Evil arguing with his son and frightened by Frau was a little fun, but I think the charm depends on whether you at least know about the Austin Power series – which has been decades since the release of the last title and isn’t so remarked by everyone in U.S. Overall, it was rather awkward, especially with forcing a villain to do a good deed for about forever, when considering how serious the pollution is. I guess it kind of is evil to force people to buy GM’s electric cars no matter what and going on a bloodlust for those who are causing serious pollution issues?

Chevrolet Silverado EV, “New Generation: The Sopranos”

  • Starring: Jamie-Lynn Sigler and Robert Iler

The commercial is mostly a recreation of HBO’s hit drama series, “The Sopranos”. It shows Meadow Soprano driving the Silverado EV, parking & plugging the car, and hug with AJ Soprano.

While this commercial also depends (in fact, a lot more than General Motors’s one) on whether you have watched the media the commercial is referencing, I believe it works better than the “Dr. EV-il” commercial as the Sopranos was a hit series and is still very popular. It might not be a memorable and/or fancy commercial for everyone, but a nice and great ‘back to the past’ moment for many fans of the series.

Nissan Ariya and Z, “Thrill Driver”

  • Starring: Brie Larson, Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Dave Bautista, and Danai Gurira

Eugene Levy gets to test drive the 2023 Nissan Z (Z35), which he gets impressed by it and ends up having an action-packed comedic car chase. As the car chase turns out to be a part of the movie “Thrill Driver”, the actors leave the premiere with the Nissan Ariya with Brie Larson taking the driver’s seat.

It is a decent commercial, this time with some fancy and exaggerated action scenes. The car chase scene gets both the spectacle and the exaggeration without depending on other popular media, along with the fact that there aren’t ‘explosive’ moments for other car commercials in this year’s Super Bowl commercial. But while the commercial well-showcased the Z, the Ariya was treated as a ‘generic traffic car’ – even though both had to get a similar amount of spotlight. Bit of a letdown.

Toyota, “Brothers” // Toyota Tundra, “The Joneses”

Toyota came up with two commercials for this Super Bowl – one for the Paralympic athletes, and one for the new Totoya Tundra.

“Brothers” features the story of the McKeever brothers (Brian and Robin McKeever), with Brian suffering from the Stargardt Macular Degeneration and losing his vision, but continue to practice with his brother Robin to overcome such disability and become renowned medalists. This commercial is more about motivating the audience and Toyota’s support for Paralympics athletes than advertising Toyota cars, which Toyota did a nice job of by having immersive visuals for an inspiring story.

  • Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Leslie Jones, Rashida Jones, and Nick Jonas

Toyota Tundras (XK70) were featured for another commercial. The three Jones do an intense race that covers various climates (paved road, sand, mud, and snow), with Nick Jonas showing up before the race resumes.

While it does show the Tundra’s offroad performance, overall it wasn’t so impressive. The race was sudden, and the race itself doesn’t have many thrilling and/or dangerous stunts other than going under the tree. If you know these four people well maybe it could be fun… but still, could’ve been a lot more interesting than just having Tundras wandering around.

Concluding thoughts

Sadly, almost all of them were very ‘typical’ of Super Bowl commercials – featuring celebrities/famous actors and nostalgic pop music while showing the car. The only one I would pick as the most impressive commercial would be EV6, as (while it does have cliques of Super Bowl commercials) it features a charming story, cute ‘animal’, and a neat showcase. But still, it’s a little sad that there hasn’t been a commercial that could be remembered for years and even almost forever… and instead, have a bunch of disappointing ones.


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