UPDATE Feb. 2, 2015: Well, the dust has settled and if you weren't watching the game, fret not, we've got the remaining automotive ads from this year's Big Game all lined up below.
2015: A Time for Family
2015 might have set a record for the number of ads appealing to fathers and the concept of family. Instead of trying to hit their audience in the brains, they've set their sights on the feels.
Toyota Camry – My Bold Dad
This spot for the Camry completes the set of three ads from Toyota on the topic of fatherhood. Trigger warning: manly tears.
Nissan Maxima – With Dad
Nissan's Maxima commercial's set to "Cat's in the Cradle". Trigger warning: hot, manly tears.
Though the Fast & Furious series has never been known for its social commentary, the speech by Vin Diesel on the importance of family takes on a real-world poignancy in the context of Paul Walker's tragic 2013 accident.
Fiat 500X – The Fiat Blue Pill
And now for something completely different: a middle-age European couple getting it on. It's hard to say if this qualifies as a Super Bowl ad – if you've been to the theatres in the last year, you may have already seen this Fiat 500X ad play before the main feature.
Dodge Challenger – Wisdom
One hundred years of wisdom, to be exact. For others, it's a cute, playful, uplifting commercial. For me, the juxtaposition of centenarians and Challengers evokes the image of projectile denture expulsion. Trigger warning: Hellcat.
Jeep Renegade – Beautiful Lands
The Super Bowl is generally viewed as a day-long paean to 'Murica, so it's strange to stumble across a very contemplative, global ad from the quintessentially American Jeep marque. Does it work? Well, there are three, possibly four instances of actual off-roading by our count, so it accurately reflects the number of times the average Renegade owner will ever take their vehicle off the road.
Lexus NX – Make Some Noise
Lexus goes for fancy choreography and camera work in their promotional spot for the new Lexus NX. Though there's technically nothing wrong with the ad, it lacks the imagination that viewers expect from Super Bowl commercials. Even their regular Japanese market ad packs more visual punch.
The Super Bowl – an annual, big-budget extravaganza, where the biggest players pull out all the stops. And there's some game where some people toss around a misshapen ball for a couple of seconds and then shuffle around for a few minutes. Others can fill you in on the teams hitting the stadium. We're about cars. In this case, car commercials.
2015... so far
Automakers have traditionally been terrible at keeping things under wraps, but now they're not even bothering with the pretense. Sanctioned "leaks" and "pre-teasers" are now standard practice. Even Super Bowl ads aren't immune, with full-length commercials available on YouTube the week before the big game. By the way, "big game" is the phrase to use when looking for these ads, since the "Super Bowl" name is trademarked. (Am I allowed to say that?)
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Kia Sorento – Perfect Getaway
We start with the previous James Bond – Pierce Brosnan – piloting a Kia Sorento through a snowy mountainside. Technically, there are explosions, but it's no 007 feature. Well, we'll always have Goldeneye.
Mercedes-AMG GT – Fable
BenzAMG adapts Aesop's tale of the Tortoise and the Hare for their first television advert for the GT (not that GT). In fact, they've created an entire series of videos, including sports channel–style commentary for the "The Big Race".
BMW i3 – Newfangled Idea
This commercial opens with Katie Couric and Bryant Gumble being confused about the internet. Fast forward 21 years and they're being confused about the BMW i3. It's meant to be endearing. And it is. But it's no i8.
Toyota Camry – How to be a father
Leave it to Toyota to produce a car commercial with no cars. The candid interviews hit you in the gut, in the same way as the quiet Chevrolet "Life" ad, or the Honda "Hug Fest" spot featuring Bruce Willis.
Toyota Camry – How Great I Am
The Toyota Camry makes an appearance in this minute-long ad, but the focus is on Paralympic medalist Amy Purdy, whose various endeavours, challenges and successes are on display. A rarely broadcast speech by Muhammad Ali forms the background.
The Best of 2014
Do you remember the Super Bowl ads of 2014? These are the first ones that came to our minds.
Maserati Ghibli – Strike
Maserati's ad for its 2014 Ghibli was recognized for its brilliant voiceover and stunning cinematography. Nothing else in recent years has managed the same combination of words and images aside from Ram with its 2013 "Farmer" spot.
Jaguar F-Type – Rendezvous
As part of its #GoodToBeBad campaign for the F-Type, Jaguar created a series of shorts featuring beloved British villains: Ben Kingsley, Tom Hiddleston, and Mark Strong. The campaign was so successful, Aston Martin recently made reference to it in their DB10 reveal with the #GoodToBeBond hashtag.
2013 and Earlier
We remember these next commercials so vividly, we were surprised to discover how old they were.
Volkswagen Passat – The Force
This ad for the Volkswagen Passat isn't the first or last time the image of Lord Vader has been invoked in a car commercial, but it's certainly one of the
cutest most humanizing.
Chrysler 200 – Imported from Detroit
Flush with current record-breaking sales years, it may be difficult to remember how the American automotive industry nearly collapsed at the end of the last decade. But this commercial in 2011 was a rallying cry for Chrysler and marked the resurgence of domestic automakers.
Audi R8 – Godfather
Audi recreates an iconic movie scene in their advert for the 2008 R8. Subsequent Audi Super Bowl ads have been more elaborate – be it in scenario or execution – but can't compare to the immediate humour of the classic Godfather parody.
Special Mention: Background Vehicles
I swear I didn't include this category just to repost last year's Budweiser commercial – I also wanted to post the 1992 Pepsi commercial.
Budweiser – Puppy Love (Audi A6)
Currently sitting at 55 million views on YouTube, chances are you, your best friend, and everyone within a twenty-metre radius has seen this video. Yes, Budweiser should be called out for playing the puppy card – generally recognized as a cheap, underhanded way to reduce audiences to wubbly goop – but it's done well, and the Clydesdales have been part of Budweiser promotions since 1933. If you watch closely, you'll catch glimpses of the farmer's truck (judging by the taillights, it's a Ford F-150), but the vehicle that makes the biggest appearance is the 2010 Audi A6 that the puppy takes a very brief ride in.
Pepsi – Cindy Crawford (Lamborghini Diablo)
Pepsi introduced a new can design back in 1992 (the current design dates from 2009) and what better way to promote it than with a supermodel driving a Lamborghini Diablo? Cindy Crawford is now perhaps best known for her cosmetics infomercials and home furnishings, but she was a household name in the '90s and was the highest-paid model in the world. As for the Diablo? Its production run ended in 2001, so you'll have to trawl the used car market for a specimen. If you're looking for something new, look no further than the Lamborghini Murciélago.