Ram Premature Electrification advert at Super Bowl LVII

Watch: The best car ads of Super Bowl LVII

There were fewer this year as carmakers shift investment to EVs ... but one brand sought to make light of the electric shift

The annual extravaganza of advertising and American Football that is the Super Bowl was unusually light on car adverts this year, with just four manufacturers opting to air an advert during one of the commercial breaks.

Carmakers have historically been among the biggest advertisers during the Super Bowl. With their lavish budgets and celebrity appearances, the TV adverts are often as much of a talking point as the football itself.

But with costs for one of the coveted ad slots now approaching some $7m (£5.8m), experts believes manufacturers are choosing instead to either invest in electric vehicle development or conserve cash for a projected economic downturn.

Last year saw the automotive industry make up the largest percentage of Super Bowl ads, with companies such as Toyota, Hyundai, Kia, Polestar, Nissan, BMW and Audi all taking the opportunity to advertise directly to a captive audience of around 100m viewers.

Although in 2023 we also got some cracking car ads, this year only three car manufacturers — General Motors, Kia and Stellantis — were represented during the Super Bowl LVII ad breaks.

“This has less to do with the Super Bowl itself and more to do with individual issues within the automotive industry,” Eric Haggstrom, director of business intelligence for Advertiser Perceptions, told CNBC.

“The auto industry has been battered by supply chain issues, inflation eating into consumer budgets, and rising interest rates that have made car payments dramatically more expensive.”

Haggstrom said carmakers are asking themselves: “What is the value of advertising today? How does that affect my top line. How does that affect my go-to-market.”

He added: “We’ve seen a general trend in accountability in consumer advertising.”

As well as the manufacturer ads and a trailer for the next Fast and the Furious film, there was another unusual one too taking direct aim at Tesla and its controversial “Full Self-Driving” system.

Kia ‘Binky Dad’

In Kia’s ad for its Telluride (not sold in Europe) a family is about to check-in to a hotel when the mother in the group realises that they’ve forgotten their baby’s “binky” — that’s a dummy/ soother/ pacifier/ whatever else you call them — forcing Dad to jump in the family SUV and return home.

Set to Bill Conti’s theme from Rocky, the minute-long ad sees “Binky Dad” careering across snowy landscapes, building sites, football pitches and Los Angeles storm drains to retrieve the dummy, only to return to the hotel to find that, of course, he’s picked up the wrong one.

Ram ‘Premature Electrification’


Stellantis is the huge automotive conglomerate which includes brands such as Fiat, Vauxhall, Peugeot, Citroën, Jeep and, in the United States, Dodge, Chrysler and Ram, the latter a big-selling pickup brand.

A cheeky spoof of American pharmaceutical ads, Ram’s ad for its first electric vehicle, the 1500 REV (due in 2024) features a series of “unsatisfied” couples worried about “premature electrification”. It’s one of the most amusing ads of the bunch, but arguably GM managed to outdo Ram with its effort (below).

Jeep ‘Electric Boogie’


Stellantis’ second Super Bowl advert was for the Jeep brand, focusing on the electrified 4xe versions of its Wrangler and Cherokee models.

The ad features a bunch of dancing animals, happy-looking people enjoying the off-road performance of their Jeeps and a soundtrack by the veteran Jamaican-American rapper, Shaggy. Off road and off the wall.

General Motors ‘Why not an EV?’


General Motors’ big-budget advert starring Will Ferrell was a collaboration with the streaming service Neflix, following the latter company’s announcement that it would feature more electric vehicles in its shows.

The ad features a number of GM’s electric vehicles from its Chevrolet, Cadillac and Hummer brands shoehorned into mocked-up scenes from popular Netflix programmes such as Squid Game, Stranger Things and Bridgerton.

“If you’re going to get swarmed by an army of the dead,” asks Ferrell, a Super Bowl ad veteran, “why not get swarmed in an EV?”


The Dawn Project’s anti-Tesla ad

“Tesla Full-Self Driving will run down a child in a school crosswalk,” says the provocative attack ad by The Dawn Project, a group dedicated to getting Tesla’s erroneously-named Full Self-Driving cruise control system banned.

The 30-second ad wasn’t aired nationally but rather in a few select locations such as Washington DC and some state capitals (to target US law-makers), and is the brainchild of a group founded by billionaire Dan O’Dowd, CEO of Green Hill Software, a company developing its own automated driving systems. Impartial, it isn’t.

The ad calls on the US National Highway Transportation Safety Agency (NHTSA) to immediately ban Tesla’s Full-Self Driving system from use on public roads, claiming that it will kill children, swerve into oncoming traffic and ignore stop signs, showing the company’s cars smashing into several child-sized mannequins.

The Dawn Project has been a long-time critic of Tesla, with the car-maker having issued a cease-and-desist letter following videos last year, again showing Tesla cars in Full-Self Driving mode hitting child-like dummies.

Tesla is currently under investigation by regulators in the US due to claims that its driver assistance systems played a part in causing a series of crashes and that exaggerated marketing hype around those systems may have led drivers to overestimate their cars’ autonomous capabilities.

When The Dawn Project posted the advert on Twitter, the social media platform ⁠— which is now owned by Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk ⁠— sought to add balance with several points of “added context” and links to articles that counter the accusations.

These include that O’Dowd owns a company that is developing competing self driving software, that other tests show The Dawn Project’s FSD claims have been debunked and that the system has resulted in more than 55 million miles of driving without reported injuries.


Fast X trailer

The new trailer for Fast X was shown during the Super Bowl, too. If you like modified cars, creaky scripts, ridiculous action set-pieces and ageing actors with CGI-dewrinkled faces, you’ll probably like it.

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