Atlanta, Georgia - The Super Bowl literally brings the United States to a standstill on the first Sunday of every February and with over 100 million captive television viewers to mesmerise, it’s no surprise that companies spend big on adverts, which the game has effectively become structured around.
Car companies have become renowned for their over-the-top Super Bowl commercials and 2019’s event, staged in Atlanta, Georgia, saw a rather diverse mix of themes - some being serious and others taking a more humorous approach.
But the one that arguably divided opinion the most this year was Kia’s commercial for its all-new large SUV, the Telluride.
The ad celebrates Kia’s own American hometown of West Point, Georgia, where it manufacturers the Telluride. It’s narrated by a small boy who says: “We’re not famous… there are no stars on the sidewalk… no statues in our honour… we’re just a small Georgia town of complete unknowns.”
That becomes the essence of the ad - a town of ordinary folk not known for what they are, but who hope to be known for what they do. Which in this case is “something incredible”.
“Give It Everything” is the final tagline and one that Kia is prepared to back up with its new Great Unknowns Scholarship for young Americans, funded by the money apparently saved by not paying a celebrity for this year’s commercial.
While many have described the Kia ad as heartfelt and touching, others found it depressing and some even felt it patronising to small town Americans, as if it’s calling them “nobodies from the sticks” as one Twitter user said.
A blogger on the AJC website felt that a child narrator was the wrong idea: “Childhood should be about big dreams and high hopes. But resignation and abandoned dreams color this narration. The commercial might have proven less off-putting if the speaker was an adult rather than a child.”
Toyota Rav4 with Toni Harris
Another Super Bowl commercial that aims to tug at the heartstrings comes from Toyota and celebrates powerhouse female football player Antoinette 'Toni' Harris and her inspirational journey.
The clip takes us through her childhood, with the narrator - sportscaster Jim Nantz - repeating a list of things ‘they’ said she couldn’t do… “They said she was too small… They said she was too weak…”
The message to the viewer is that assumptions should always be challenged, and (of course) that the new Toyota Rav4 is here to shatter our perceptions of what a hybrid vehicle should be like.
Toyota Supra pinball machine
Toyota’s Supra ad takes a more lighthearted approach, with the newly revealed BMW-based sports car tearing its way through a giant pinball machine and although it’s not meant to be humorous in any way, it does treat viewers to some sideways driving antics in the new rear-driven coupe.
Mercedes A-Class voice control
Mercedes took a humorous approach to highlighting the advanced voice control technology that comes with its new MBUX user interface.
It asks the simple question - what if everything in life listened to you like the new A-Class?
Audi e-tron ‘a brief trip to heaven’
Audi found an equally creative way to highlight its upcoming electric car family.
We see a young man meeting his late grandfather in a seemingly utopian countryside scene, before being taken to a ‘dream’ garage that houses an e-tron GT concept. But just before he gets to drive it, he wakes up coughing up a cashew nut that he'd choked on in the office, and it was all just a vision resulting from his near-death experience.
The final tagline reads: “A thrilling future awaits. On Earth. One third of all new Audi models will be electrified by 2025.”
Dodge Challenger and the devil
Dodge’s clip for The Big Game is a play on the song ‘The Devil Went Down To Georgia’ by the Charlie Daniels Band, fitting given that this year’s Super Bowl was hosted in Georgia, and fitting giving the sinister range of Hellcat-powered vehicles that Fiat Chrysler markets these days.