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Serious, funny, and controversial: Every car commercial from Super Bowl 53

You could buy a private jet — and a small airport to land it on — with the money it takes to buy a spot for a 30-second commercial during the Super Bowl. Estimates vary, but most analysts peg the cost of a half-minute spot at approximately $5 million. That’s why the companies that buy in all want to hit a home run. With those kind of stakes, ads can be anything except for forgettable.

In 2019, some automakers scored big while a few struck out. If you missed the game, or if you want to relive the best off-field moments, here are the automotive ads that aired during Super Bowl 53.

Audi takes a nut to heaven

Audi Presents: Cashew

At first, Audi’s commercial looks like a real tearjerker. It shows a man visiting his elderly grandpa, and checking out the E-Tron GT concept parked in the garage of a picturesque house in the countryside. He unplugs it – the GT is entirely electric – and prepares to go for a spin when the ad suddenly takes an unexpected turn. The man briefly died and went to heaven after choking on a cashew nut. All hope is not lost: The ad promises a thrilling future on Earth, and announces that a third of Audi’s models will boast some form of electrification by 2025. As Digital Trends already reported, the GT concept that stars in the ad is on its way to production.

Hyundai ranks car-shopping below vegan cuisine

The Elevator | 2019 Super Bowl Commercial | Hyundai

Hyundai acknowledges car shopping is unpleasant at best for most motorists. In its Super Bowl ad, the company humorously places car-shopping below getting a root canal, getting called to jury duty, and attending a vegan dinner party where beetloaf is served on the list of miserable experiences people have to endure. Unless you’re using the firm’s Shopper Assurance program, the ad argues. It promises buyers transparent pricing and a three-day exchange policy, among other perks.

Hyundai’s ad has summoned a dark cloud of disapproval from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

Kia gets serious

2020 Kia Telluride Big Game Commercial | Give It Everything

Kia told the hamsters to stay home this year. Instead, the South Korean company took a considerably more serious approach to showing off its new Telluride eight-seater SUV. Don’t look for celebrities or jokes here.

The ad tells the story of the people who live in West Point, Georgia, where the Telluride is made. It argues their chances of being famous are slim to none; they’re likely not going to compete in the big leagues, and they’re probably not going to get a million subscribers on YouTube or Instagram. And that’s fine – they don’t want to be famous. Instead, they want to be remembered for what they make, including the Telluride.

Mercedes-Benz adds voice recognition to everything

Mercedes-Benz 2019 A-Class "Say the Word" Big Game Commercial

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class Sedan comes with MBUX, the company’s latest and greatest infotainment system. Voice-recognition technology is a key part of MBUX. For example, the passengers can say, “hey Mercedes, I’m cold,” to turn on the heater. This commercial imagines what it would be like if voice-recognition technology controlled everything in your life, from the outcome of a football game to the traffic lights in Manhattan. Spoiler alert: Ludacris makes a surprise appearance in the spot.

Ram speaks to other brands

Ram "Big Game Blitz" | #RamWillTowThat | Avocados From Mexico

Ram released a repetitive series of short ads highlighting the brand-new 2020 Heavy Duty pickup truck it introduced during the 2019 Detroit Auto Show. The truck boasts a 35,100-pound towing capacity, meaning it could just about pull Mount St. Helens out of Washington. Footage of the truck on a construction site would be boring, so the ads instead showed the Heavy Duty pulling products other brands advertised during the game. Frankly, we wouldn’t mind seeing a 3500 Heavy Duty pull up in front of our office with a house-sized bowl of guacamole.

Toyota’s Pinball Wizard

Toyota Supra: "Wizard" | Toyota

Toyota’s first Super Bowl commercial begins with the song “Pinball Wizard” by The Who. You see where this is going, right? To highlight the long-awaited Supra, the Japanese firm placed the coupe inside a giant pinball machine and told the driver to drift until there’s nothing left on the tires. Clearly, Toyota knows the coupe’s target audience.

Toyota’s anti-assumption campaign

Toni | RAV4 Hybrid | Toyota

The Supra isn’t the only Toyota that enjoyed airtime during the Super Bowl. The company’s second ad drew parallels between the new RAV4 Hybrid and Toni Harris, the 22-year old football superstar who wants to become the first female to play in the NFL. What does Harris have in common with a crossover? Both defy assumptions, according to the ad. Harris is boldly breaking new ground for female athletes, while the ad argues the RAV4 Hybrid, as a gasoline-electric model built for speed, is also defying perceptions.

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Ronan Glon
Ronan Glon is an American automotive and tech journalist based in southern France. As a long-time contributor to Digital…
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