It doesn’t matter if you supported the New York Giants or the New England Patriots Sunday night, because there were a few winners at this year’s Super Bowl who never clutched a pigskin, rushed a passer, or performed at halftime. We’ve rounded up what we think are the winners (and, regrettably, a couple of losers) from Sunday's crop of, what else, car ads.
Winner One: Jerry Seinfeld
The comedian managed to take a car that won’t be released for a few years and turn it into comedic gold: Seinfeld’s last-ditch attempts at scoring the top slot on the Acura NSX waiting list racked up nearly 16 million hits on YouTube as of today. Somewhere between the ziplines and the cameo by another famous car-nut comedian, Jay Leno, Seinfeld and his Acura ad managed to advertise a product you can’t buy and still come out looking good. Not so much for Acura’s current crop of cars: only one or two of the Acuras you can buy were on-screen and only deep in the background, without mention, for a second or two.
Winner Two: Dogs
Man/woman’s best friend took center stage in a big, big way this year, but in no bigger way than Volkswagen’s one-two punch of advertisements. Its dogs-singing-the-Imperial-March teaser on YouTube racked up 12,625,000 views before the big game and inspired hundreds of video responses of dogs watching the clip. The final ad, which featured a cardio-conscious dog chasing a new Beetle Turbo, has garnered 5,456,000 views so far, and gets our nod if only for the shot of the dog begrudgingly turning down a buffet of food falling from a child’s highchair.
Winner Three: Iconic 1980s Movies
It was a good night for ‘80s movies, but one fared better than the rest: Honda’s CR-V got the Broderick bump as the movie star re-enacted the classic Ferris Bueller’s Day Off with the new crossover. YouTube fans showered Broderick and Honda with 12,470,000 views. Hyundai’s nod to Rocky might not have fared as well, but it managed to pull in a respectable 1,020,000 views online, making it Hyundai’s second-most-popular ad this year.
Winner Four: Wieden+Kennedy
It didn’t really matter what viewers thought of Clint Eastwood’s growly, raspy performance in Sunday's follow-up to the 2011 “Imported from Detroit” spot, because anticipation alone brought plenty of eyeballs to watch it. After a critically acclaimed 2011 spot in which Eminem introduced America to the phrase Imported from Detroit, Chrysler and W+K were hoping for lightning to strike twice, and many media watchers laid in wait, too. With four weeks to go before airtime, Chrysler claimed it hadn’t yet finalized any cuts, and information about the spot was very, very sparse.
The final cut was simple: only a couple of live shots and some voice-over by Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood, some stylized B-roll of products like the Ram Power Wagon and the Jeep Grand Cherokee. But it managed to thread the theme of America (and Chrysler) as scrappy underdogs, saved from disaster and hell-bent on tasting real success, through a captivating two-minute cinematic masterpiece. W+K (under Chrysler’s guidance) hadn’t just struck lightning twice, it had done so by spinning found items into gold. After a late release and a technical issue, the ad has since racked up roughly 520,000 YouTube views from today alone.
Disappointment One: Manly Kias
We like much of the current crop of Kia cars and SUVs, but it was hard for everyone to love the extended tribute-to-dudehood that was Kia’s “Dream Car” advertisement. Somewhere between the giant salami sandwich and Mixed Martial Arts fighter Chuck Liddell’s head exploding, many of us got lost in the rampant testosterone on-screen, while many of our manlier friends and family laughed riotously. That manly laughter wasn’t enough, however: the ad’s teaser scored 158,500 views, and the full version racked up 1,211,000, putting what could have been a blockbuster ad right in the middle of the pack.
Disappointment Two: Rapper Endorsements
When Eminem pointed at the camera in 2011 and said, “This is what we do,” buyers swooned all the way to the dealership to purchase Chrysler 200 sedans en masse. We’re not sure the same will happen with Suzuki’s ad for the Kizashi sedan. Even though the automaker tweaked its dogsled ad at the last second to add 50 Cent’s new single, the spot didn’t draw many eyes: it’s been watched online just 118,000 times.
Our Favorite Omission: The Lionel Richie Blender
Automakers regaled themselves with director’s cut ads this year, releasing 90- to 150-second advertisements as online previews and then cutting them for television. Left on the cutting-room floor from Toyota’s extended-cut “Reinvention” advertisement was a shot of a blender that plays Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long” while making smoothies. While we’re not convinced that we’d like to purchase a brand-new Camry, we’d be first in line to get one of those blenders.
*All view counts are rounded and as of 5PM Monday, February 7.