Top 10 Super Bowl Car Commercials
By David Thomas
on January 9, 2009
As Cars.com gears up for its second consecutive year advertising during the Super Bowl, we reflect on all the car commercials that have come before that have made the game such a monumental destination for selling wares and services. OK, we didn’t really look at every single ad, but we did take on the entire 21st century. You can check out our list of the Top 10 Worst Super Bowl Commercials
No. 10: Ford Mustang Frozen in Fargo, 2005 There might be a bit too much buildup here, but there’s no denying the contrast in wintry weather that many Super Bowl viewers were experiencing themselves and the visceral joy of driving an all-new Mustang droptop.
Toyota Tundra Doing Crazy Stuff, 2007 No. 9: Toyota wanted to show that its new truck could do lots of insane stunts to perfection. The company spent days answering our queries about whether or not they were real. They were. Unfortunately for Toyota, that didn’t seem to impress truck buyers.
Dodge Magnum Monkey on Your Back, 2004 No. 8: How do you build a cool family car? Make it look like modern transportation for Al Capone and his friends, then put a Hemi in it. Plus, the spot has a monkey in it. Everyone knows an animal means automatic bonus points in Super Bowl commercials.
No. 7: Cadillac Click, Click … Launch, 2005 While not as big a deal as the Break Through ad in 2003, this continuation shows off the cars and puts the Cadillac performance aspect directly in front of American viewers.
No. 6: Audi R8 Godfather Reprise, 2008 Who says you can’t be creative? This is Audi’s attempt for the hearts and minds of luxury buyers. For the rest of us, we just like seeing cool cars with LED headlights.
No. 5: Honda Ridgeline Mudflaps, 2006 Honda had a Super Bowl flop on its hands when it introduced the Ridgeline in 2005, as it just showed the pickup driving over mountains -- you know, ridgelines. The next year it got wise and hit truck buyers on the nose with iconic mudflap characters. It was probably a year too late.
No. 4: Hummer Monsters, 2006 OK, this one is a little out there, but it’s the kind of commercial that gets attention in the media and blogosphere. That’s a good thing, because the Hummer brand hasn’t had the best image. But, hey, if it can make a fun commercial about an SUV, maybe it’s not so bad.
Chevy SSR Soap in Mouth, 2004 No. 3: Chevy delivered a clever ad with this one, featuring cute kids with soap sticking out of their mouths after witnessing one of the first retractable hardtops on the market, on the Chevy SSR retro sports truck. No amount of clever or cute helped the SSR, though, as it was a gigantic flop for the company. Mazda Zoom-Zoom, 2001 [Go No. 2: here to watch the ad] The little kid and the song annoyed countless people for years, but the “Zoom-Zoom” slogan quickly became the biggest hit in Mazda advertising history. Years later it remains one of the most remembered taglines of any product.
No. 1: Cadillac Break Through, 2003 The whole concept is a bit weird. Why would a subway billboard system be the place to see the history of Cadillac? And paying huge sums for a Led Zeppelin tune when your tagline is from a Doors track was a blunder written in advertising lore. But the ad did what it set out to do: revitalize Cadillac.
Managing Editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon.