This Sunday saw Super Bowl LVI, an event where the half-time entertainment and TV commercials are as much a part of the occasion as the game itself.
And in the year of our lord 2022? EV makers went all in, spending a sizable chunk of their marketing budgets on advertising.
So, how do they stack up? And who were the winners and losers? Let’s take a look:
BMW’s effort brings an update and electrification to Greek mythology. Gods Zeus (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Hera (Salma Hayek Pinault) retire to Palm Springs, California.
To keep the spark alive, Hera gifts Zeus with a shiny new EV BMW iX, and Zeus spends his time driving around, electrifying the world with a point of his finger.
Well, my Greek colleague Ioanna already had a lot of feels about this. As she notes:
To see Arnold Schwarzenegger as a car-loving Zeus? This, I don’t accept. And to have Hercules’ ferocious Pegasus called “Lil’ Peggy?”
I simply CANNOT.
It’s a funny ad, but honestly, it alarms me how many people on YouTube want this to be an actual movie. Too many people inspired by the TV show American Gods? Or is it a desire to return to Arnie as Hercules?
Austin Powers is back, baby!
Dr Evil and his cronies have taken over the GM Renaissance Center headquarters, where the criminal mastermind learns that he is becoming a grandfather of a “Baby-me.”
Even worse, they’re no longer the dominant force for global destruction. “Climate change is arguably the number one threat in the world right now,” explains Scott Evil.
So, a dastardly plan is hatched to take over the world… to retain the power to destroy it?
Yeah, it’s a weird and convoluted storyline. But it’s a good cast, and the ad eventually promotes the fact that GM will launch “30 EVs globally by 2025.”
If you like an all-star cast that includes Rob Lowe and Seth Green, this one’s for you.
And yes, people on YouTube are begging for Austin Powers 4.
With the tagline “every dog deserves to find their forever home,” you know this advert is for all of you on the sofa, nursing a hangover, and trying to stop your dog from eating the leftover chicken wings you were too drunk to put away yesterday.
With a soundtrack of Bonnie Tyler’s ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart,’ it shows a cute robodog (no, not the one from Black Mirror) desperately trying to find their owner, someone who drives Kia’s all-electric EV6.
They reunite at the EV charger just in time to give the pup a hit of electric juice.
This ad gave me all the feels, but made me forget all about the car. I just want a Nissan robodog now.
Chevy is changing with the times, popping its EV cherry with the fully-electric Silverado.
This ad celebrates the occasion with a homage to the hit TV series, The Sopranos. Meadow (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) reenacts the show’s opening scene, meeting up with A.J. Soprano (Robert Iler) at an EV charger.
With the dulcet tones of The Sopranos’ theme song — Alabama 3’s ‘Woke Up This Morning,’ — the ad introduces a “whole new truck for a whole new generation.”
What can I say? I used to like The Sopranos. I’ve tried introducing it to my younger spouse, who says it’s too dull (sacrilege!), but this was an excellent ad for Chevy and a great homage to the hit show.
You don’t need to do much when you have a great car, but Nissan really steps up.
In this ad for its Z sports car, Eugene Levy goes from goofy to long-haired action movie star, dodging burning helicopters and an exploding world where the car flies smoothly through the chaos.
His female co-stars drive up to a movie premiere in an Ariya electric crossover, where they collect Eugene and drive off into the sunset.
It’s a strange ad.
The Nissan Z is powered by a V6 engine, not electric batteries. And the Ariya is motor-powered, but aided by an electric extended range. The company aims to roll out 23 new electrified models by 2030, with 15 fully electric.
So, this seems a little backward.
The Nissan Z is a seriously sleek-looking car and has an audience of buyers anxiously awaiting its arrival. But it’s not an EV, and at a time where companies are seriously trying to assert their green cred, it seems really out of touch.
But, if Nissan decided to make a flying sports car, I, for one, would be all in.
Polestar goes in a completely different direction from its competitors. There’s no evocative music, actors, or heartstring pulling.
This is the kinda ad that makes me think of people who wear black ringed square glasses, talk about “new media,” and drink espresso martinis. I’m not sure I’m cool enough for it, but I like its simplicity.
Wallbox EV charging
Who better to talk about electric vehicle charging than a dude who’s been struck by lightning?
In a pitch for the Wallbox EV charger, this ad just does that, with the protagonist showing a montage of his fears of electricity. He then ultimately concedes that an electric, greener future is vital, and that Wallbox helps him move forward from his fear.
It’s a nice hook for people who fear being electrocuted by an EV charger, but there’s some serious soul missing in this one.
The Super Bowl is a big event for advertisers keen to get big brand recognition from a global audience of millions. And this year, the repeated presence of EVs shows just how far automakers have come in ushering their arrival into a captive audience.
Overall, I think this year’s ads use nostalgia as a way to usher in an electric future. Whether you grew up watching Austin Powers or The Sopranos — or are new to the characters — these ads offer multigenerational appeal.
Now let’s just hope they can actually make a difference.
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