Good or bad, these car commercials left their own impressions on us

So, Super Bowl LI was a pretty remarkable game, wasn’t it? It had generous helpings of drama, including the greatest comeback in the history of the game. That tells you the magnitude of what Tom Brady and the New England Patriots accomplished when it rallied from 25 points down to beat Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons, 34 to 28.

Apart from the history-making game though, Super Bowl LI will be remembered for its commercials. That’s been a recipe of the Big Game for years now, and just as it was back then, this year’s game featured plenty of commercials, including a significant number of ads from the auto industry. There were definitely a lot of them, and while some of those commercials bordered on the bad to the outright ridiculous, there are those that stood out, including the five commercials you’re going to read about below.

These ads are, for lack of a better term, the most memorable car commercials of Super Bowl LI. As you can expect the treatment of these ads differ from one another. There’s one that used the power of a celebrity to get its message across. There’s also another that touched on its own future. Then there are the ads that carried with them deeper societal meanings that extended well into the treatment of their commercials.

Remember, this isn’t a list of the best commercials among automakers during Super Bowl LI. It’s a list of commercials that stood out in different ways, whether it’s through laughs or empowerment. Personally, I liked all of them, and for what it’s worth, all five do place in my rankings of best car commercials during Super Bowl LI, which itself will be otherwise remembered as the Super Bowl that solidified Tom Brady’s place as the greatest of all time.

Continue after the jump to read the full story.

Kia Niro “Run”

Arguably one of the funniest commercials of the night, Melissa McCarthy’s casting was a master stroke for Kia. One of the best comedic actresses in the world today already looks and feels natural as a celebrity endorser of eco-friendly causes. But Kia and McCarthy took it a step further by injecting some slapstick humor into the commercial, and almost all of it involved the actress either slamming onto the side of a freighter, plunging to her demise (twice!), and getting gored by rhinoceros. I’m not sure any of those felt good, but McCarthy sells all of them hilariously. But the best part of the ad was the “it’s hard to be an eco warrior, but it’s easy to drive like one” hook. Not only does it successfully blend the story of the commercial with the Kia Niro, but it does it naturally, allowing viewers like ourselves to seamlessly connect the dots without even trying. Overall, a great commercial for Kia as the automaker was able to tout the Niro and still give McCarthy enough freedom to showcase her own comedic chops.

Read our full review on the Kia Niro here.

Ford “Go Further”

If there was a commercial from Super Bowl LI that acted as “part mission statement, part promise to the world,” Ford’s “Go Further” commercial takes the cake. There were no celebrities here, nor were there any moments of advertisement hard-sell. What it did have was a clear message to everyone who saw it, and in some respects, we can identify to some of the “stuck” scenarios a lot of these people found themselves in. But like the commercial’s “Go Further” tag line, the sense of perseverance that allows us to get out of our own predicaments situations also allows us to strive to go further than we’ve ever had to before. In a lot of ways, this is also Ford’s call-to-action moving forward, and as a customer, it’s reassuring to know that the Blue Oval is taking future tech like ride and bike sharing, electric vehicles, and self-driving seriously.

Alfa Romeo “Riding Dragons”

Raise your hands if you remember the last time Alfa Romeo had its own Super Bowl commercial. I can’t do it because I don’t think the Italian brand has ever been in one. How times have changed, right? “Riding Dragons,” in my opinion, is the best pure car commercial to hit the Super Bowl. It didn’t rely on comedy, celebrities, or political/social issues to get its message across. Instead, it worked up an excellent script for the commercial that was in part a look back at the company’s storied past and another part an admission of the struggles it’s had on the road to its reinvention. I personally like it when a company not only admits its own frailty, but also lays down the path towards its return to prominence. Alfa and Fiat Chrysler nailed that message in its Super Bowl ad promoting the new Giulia Quadrifoglio and, as a fan of the marquee, I couldn’t have been more excited to see it play out on TV, even if it was just for one minute.

Read our full review on the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio here.

Audi “Daughter”

Hands down the (second) best car commercial from Super Bowl LI, and it wasn’t because a lot of my friends actually cheered when the ad was shown. I love this commercial because Audi actually spends very little time promoting the S5 Sportback. Instead, the automaker addresses a far more important societal issue than laser lights by shining a light – no pun intended – on gender equality and promoting a pro-feminist movement that wouldn’t have made a big noise in past years. But we live in a different world now and Audi’s pledge to be an equal-pay employer is a sign that the company isn’t afraid to evolve alongside the world it lives in. Oh, and the narrator’s “what should I tell my daughter?” line cuts at the heartstrings of every father out there.

Read our full review on the Audi S5 Sportback here.

Hyundai “A Better Super Bowl”

I know the military angle has been used ad nauseum in Super Bowl commercials, but like Audi’s “Daughter” commercial, the significance of this ad is less about Hyundai as an automaker, but Hyundai as a company that knows about the bigger and more important issues in the world. And in such a precarious time in U.S. history, it’s difficult to remember that our freedom comes at a cost for the brave men and women of our military, a lot of whom spend inordinate amounts of time away from their own families so that people like us can watch the Super Bowl without so much as worrying about our own safety. Bonus points also goes to Hyundai for actually filming the commercial live throughout the game. It had to get approval from Fox, the NFL, and the U.S. military to do it, but considering the reception it has received so far, I don’t have any issues calling this one the best commercial from Super Bowl LI.

Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert -
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read More
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