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2017 Super Bowl car commercials: The best and worst

By Anna Kantilaftas, 06 Feb 2017 Car Style

Melissa McCarthy Rhino Super Bowl Commercial for Kia

One of our favourite times of the year has arrived as automakers release their inspiring, hilarious and sometimes down-right-weird Super Bowl ads.

As most of the US fill their cups with beer and settle in to watch the Atlanta Falcons take on the New England Patriots in the 2017 Super Bowl, the rest of the world tune in to watch the universally-anticipated commercials.

As soon as the Kia Niro teaser dropped last week, we knew we could expect big things from this year’s ads. And with eight car commercials dropping this week, automakers have certainly delivered with an array of whacky, funny and inspiring videos.

Some made us laugh, like the Kia “Hero’s Journey” staring Melissa McCarthy, and others made us stand in applause as they made strong, political statements (shout out to Audi’s “Daughter” commercial which will have feminists everywhere offering a standing ovation).

But of course, we’re not without the ads that leave us scratching our heads in confusion. Cam Newton (quarterback for the Carolina Panthers) makes an appearance in Buick’s ad alongside a three-second appearance from Miranda Kerr.

So, without further ado, here are some of the best and worst car commercials of the 2017 Super Bowl.

“Daughter” – Audi #DriveProgress

Audi’s commercial, titled “Daughter”, couldn’t have come at a better time. Perhaps one of the most inspiring releases this year, Audi makes an important statement about following your dreams, but also equal pay and women’s rights. The commercial tells the story of a young girl competing in a downhill cart race against a field of predominantly male competitors, while her father resights a poetic-like dialogue on her worth as a human measured by her gender or her abilities. She wins. WhichCar is all for empowering women in the industry, so from us, this ad gets a standing ovation.

“Easy Driver” - Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster directed by The Coen Brothers

This ad, directed by American filmmakers, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen whose filmography includes Fargo (1996), The Big Lebowski (1998) and No Country for Old Men (2007) also stars rebel actor, Peter Fonda. In a bid to make shiny-luxe seem wild, Mercedes-AMG attempts to make the GT Roadster look tougher than a bikie-gang riding through middle-America. Whether it succeeds or not all depends on how easily you’re persuaded by celebrity endorsement. Still, this ad makes us long for wind-in-our-hair road trips to Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild”.

“Hero’s Journey” – Kia Niro

The more we watch this commercial, the funnier it gets. If we didn’t like Melissa McCarthy before, we sure do now. Not only is the advertisement making an important statement about the importance of looking after our environment (because, you know, climate change is actually a real thing) while promoting Kia’s hybrid crossover SUV, the Niro, but it does so in a way that makes us want to watch this ad over and over again.

 “Yearbooks” - Honda CR-V

Another one for the inspiration column, the Honda CR-V Big Game commercial is all about chasing your dreams, no matter the obstacle. The video description says “Honda celebrates the people who chase their dreams with reckless abandon, and the amazing things that happen when their dreams come true. For us, they lead to vehicles like the all-new Honda CR-V, a 20-year dream come true”. With an all-star cast, Tina Fey, Robert Redford, Amy Adams, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Steve Carell, Missy Elliot, Stan Lee, Jimmy Kimmel, and Viola Davis appear in yearbook photos with one message – never give up. If you need us, we’ll be packing the coolest car we can find in the WhichCar garage and setting off on a trip through Australia, because… dreams.

“Operation Better” – Hyundai

There’s not much we can say about this ad just yet, but it’s certainly got our attention. Apparently, the Hyundai ads are just a series of teasers of what’s to come as the carmaker attempts to shoot a 90-second advertisement, or “documentary”, during the game to be aired after the game. By the looks of the teasers, it’ll make a military statement, and recent reports suggest footage will come from a U.S. military base. Hyundai, you’ve got our attention…

“Go Further” – Ford

Go Further simultaneously motivated and disappointed. Sending a message, albeit a subtle one, to never give up and always keep moving, the ad does so well until the final sixty seconds when it does what you expect every ad to do and plugs, well, Ford. We know that that’s the point of spending a whole lot of money to reach a whole lot of people at one of the most watched events on the planet, but Ford went and took a good thing and made it about them. The commercial is intrinsically about Ford’s dedication to innovation and helping people get about their daily lives with more convenience and less hassle than before. But really, who’s not doing that. We were more on board with the whole “never give up” thing.

“Big Game” – Buick

We don’t sell Buicks here in Australia, so maybe it’s just a matter of our inability to relate to this commercial, but it seems like the luxury arm of General Motors is trying to clear its name as an ‘old-person’s’ car and attempt to reveal itself as a sexier brand, by two, well, unsexy cars. Either way, Cam Newton and Miranda Kerr (at least three seconds of her), don’t really sell us the concept. 

“Man and Machine” – Lexus LC

“The feeling” is something we talk about a lot in the WhichCar office. The ability of a car to make you feel something for it, or how it feels to drive, is something we’re very aware of. That’s what Lexus is portraying in its commercial through the art of dance. In an age of autonomous technology and controversy around the legalities of robot cars, Lexus makes the statement; “Machines don’t have emotions, but the rare few can inspire them.” Dance, engine noise, good music and fast driving makes this one of the cooler ads of the reveal.