AS IS usually the case with the Super Bowl show, Sunday night’s coverage of the massively-popular American football showdown wasn’t short of great car adverts, with appearances from A-listers including Winona Ryder, Timothée Chalamet, Will Ferrell and Bruce Springsteen.
The annual championship game has very much transcended the label of “sporting event” — it’s a cultural phenomenon, and some watch it as much for its blockbuster half-time show and star-studded adverts as they do the game itself.
Super Bowl LV was remarkable for several reasons: only 25,000 fans attended the game at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Raymond James Stadium, which was filled to less than half its capacity so that social distancing rules could be enforced.
Tom Brady, already considered the greatest NFL player of all time, became only the second quarterback to win the Super Bowl with two different teams, extended his record as the player with most Super Bowl wins to seven, and, at 43, became the oldest player to ever take part in The Big Game.
The famous half-time show came courtesy of The Weeknd, who performed largely from the stands surrounded by cardboard cut-outs thanks to the regulations required by the coronavirus pandemic. Predictably celeb-filled adverts both addressed and distracted from the tense political moment in which America finds itself.
Here are the best five car adverts from the Super Bowl 2021.
1. Winona Ryder and Timothée Chalamet recreate Edward Scissorhands for Cadillac
One of Winona Ryder’s most famous cinematic roles was in 1990’s Edward Scissorhands, in which she played a character who sees past the titular character’s dangerous digits and falls for his gentle charm. In the Tim Burton movie, Edward was portrayed by Johnny Depp but he doesn’t appear in the advert — not surprising given his recent conviction for domestic abuse.
Timothée Chalamet, who has become one of Hollywood’s leading men thanks to his roles in Call Me by Your Name, Ladybird and Beautiful Boy, plays Edgar, who is the son of Edward and burdened with the same sharp afflictions.
That is, until his doting mother buys him a Cadillac Lyriq, an upcoming electric SUV from the General Motors-owned marque. Thanks to the car’s “hands free driver assistance”, which will be available on more than 200,000 miles of road (in America, obviously — it’s still a legal requirement to keep your hands on the wheel in the UK), Edgar can travel incident free. How sweet.
The Lyriq will be Cadillac’s first electric car and is expected to be released in the early stages of 2022.
2. Will Ferrell starts a feud with Norway for General Motors
A bearded Will Ferrell (Will Feral?) has heard the news that Norway is quickly becoming the world leader when it comes to the uptake of electric vehicles, and he’s not happy about it.
The star of countless comedies (Anchorman, Talledega Nights and Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, to name a few) is shown on a crusade to Norway, globe in (or more accurately, on) hand, to confront the Scandies about their EV superiority. He’s also joined by Saturday Night Live‘s Keenan Thompson and multi-hyphenate Akwafina.
This is the second Super Bowl advert to include the Cadillac Lyriq, as well as the new, battery powered GMC Hummer, which, despite its American-ness, seems quite at home in the snowy climes of Finland.
3. Bruce Springsteen advertises Jeep
With its ads, General Motors did a pretty good job at distracting from America’s pretty troubled reality, but some, like Jeep, decided to address it. With the aid of “The Boss”, Bruce Springsteen — starring in his first ever advert, incidentally — the heritage brand is out to reclaim the country’s ever-shrinking middle ground: “That area between red and blue, between servant and citizen, between our freedom and our fear.”
It’s a poignant ad, full of dramatic, pensive shots of America’s Midwest, and interestingly, it doesn’t even advertise any of Jeep’s contemporary line-up. The only models to appear in it are a 1980 Jeep CJ and a 1965 Willy’s Jeep CJ-5.
Update, February 11: Jeep has removed “The Middle” from its YouTube channel after it was revealed that Bruce Springsteen was charged with three offences, including drink driving, in November.
In a statement, the car maker said: “It would be inappropriate for us to comment on the details of a matter we have only read about and we cannot substantiate. But it’s also right that we pause our Big Game commercial until the actual facts can be established. Its message of community and unity is as relevant as ever. As is the message that drinking and driving can never be condoned.”
4. Toyota celebrates its partnership with the American Paralympic team
Toyota, like Jeep, decided to strike a more serious, hopeful note with its ad. And like Jeep, it opted not to include any of its current automotive offerings. Instead the car maker decided to use its partnership with the American Olympic and Paralympic teams to highlight the story of swimmer Jessica Long, whose legs were amputated below the knee when she was an infant due to illness.
Long was also an orphan, adopted from a Siberian orphanage by an American couple when she was 13 months old. Now 28, she has gone on to win 23 Paralympic medals — more than half of them gold — and 30 World Championship medals, as well as being named the Paralympic woman of the year after taking eight medals at London 2012. If that’s not a message of hope, we don’t know what is.
5. Ford highlights the heroes of the coronavirus pandemic
Rounding out the list is Ford, which decided not to feature a celebrity — or any cars — in its ad. Instead, the marque decided to use its spot to urge Americans to “Finish Strong” in its ongoing battle against the coronavirus pandemic, and depicts masked Americans pulling together to beat the virus — including the country’s health workers.
“We are so close. So close. Soon we will be what we were,” narrates Bryan Cranston.
Ford said that it expected the ad to reach around 325 million people in the areas hit hardest by the pandemic. The car maker also plans to distribute 25 million free medical grade masks in America over the next five weeks.
- After reading about the best automotive adverts from the 2021 Super Bowl, you might want to see the best from last year’s game.
- Last year Audi was forced to apologise for one of its social media ads after it was deemed “insensitive”.
- We’ve also done a roundup of the best ten Citroën adverts.