Admit it: You watch the big game more for the commercials than the football. That doesn’t come as a surprise — after all, there’s only a slim chance your team is on the field. Super Bowl commercials are a special breed, and we know you understand when we say the best ones are the car commercials.
Advertising time during the Super Bowl is some of the most expensive of any televised event. Last year, prices topped $5 million per 30-second spot. Automakers know with so much cash and so many eyes on their content, they need to get it right. Here are our picks for the best Super Bowl commercials starring cars.
Ridley Scott’s 300ZX Twin Turbo Commercial
When you hire an award-winning director to create content for your Super Bowl ad, it had better be good. The man behind films like The Martian, Gladiator and Blade Runner delivered a dream-sequence tribute to the Nissan 300ZX, complete with epic voice-over. It was action-packed enough to take minds off the football game, even featuring a fighter jet. Plus, any commercial with car jumping is bound to be a hit.
Usually, we expect a Super Bowl ad to be funny, but sometimes manufacturers choose to appeal to different sides of the human psyche, with all those eyes on the tube.
Audi did just that with their “Daughter” ad, which focuses on a competitive young woman whose father is torn about how to explain to her that the boys she’s out-driving in a local soapbox derby will get better pay and enjoy a different standard of treatment in the workplace. Of course, the Audi S5 is the symbol of his realization that times are changing, but after all, they had to work a car in there somewhere.
Toyota’s “The Longest Chase”
Toyota knew just what they were doing with this 2016 ad that stars the redesigned Prius as the world’s most unlikely getaway car. Rival carmakers take note: It pays to understand the way the public views your product.
Despite its stuffy image, the Prius turns out to be a capable vehicle for evading the boys in blue. It even receives compliments from the thieves, who note its spacious cabin. Thanks to its excellent gas mileage, the Prius helps its four occupants escape the authorities, and they become known as the #Prius4.
If you thought one of the “Big Three” automakers in the ‘70s would be above writing a jingle dedicated entirely to a car’s exhaust system…well, why would you think that?
A founding father of the muscle car genre, the GTO was at the top of the heap in 1970. It was a sweet piece in any trim, but for the Super Bowl, Pontiac chose to bet the farm on advertising a pass-through exhaust a driver could activate using a pull switch beneath the dash.
As the tune says, “Pipes open wide is the way it’s gonna be.” It’s just too bad Pontiac isn’t around anymore.
Volkswagen’s “The Force”
Keeping the sci-fi theme alive, Volkswagen must have dropped some coin to license Star Wars music and likenesses for use in their 2011 commercial. It features a strong-willed, but Forceless, child clad in Darth Vader’s robes, attempting to move various objects like a Jedi.
Depressed, but not defeated, he makes a final attempt to use his power on Dad’s 2012 Passat. Dad comes through with the remote-start feature just in time. It’s a true gem, and often considered one of the best Super Bowl commercials of all time.
Car commercials aren’t the only commercials that come on during the Super Bowl, but you know they’re the most important ones. Will this year’s crop live up to expectations? Prep your chicken wings and cross your fingers — it’s not every year classics like these come around.