Updated: 2012 Super Bowl Car Ad Central

By Keith Buglewicz | February 01, 2012
The Super Bowl of advertising is just around the corner, once again coinciding with the actual Super bowl. Good thing too, since it's a sure bet that not all of the millions of people watching The Big Game actually enjoy football. However, all of them do buy stuff on occasion, even the guy who thought he could avoid being called a freeloader by bringing  a warm six-pack of Keystone Light to your Super Bowl party. Luckily, companies go to great expense to make sure their commercials are as good as possible, and the excessively high advertising rates combined with inevitably outsized production costs means that only companies with the deepest pockets can afford to advertise on game day. Like automakers. This year sees ads from GM, Honda, Acura, Suzuki, Volkswagen, Audi and several others. Some are already online in their entirety—defeating the purpose if you ask us—while others have only been teased. But whether they're full teasers or just an announcement, we've compiled all the automotive Super Bowl ads in one place for you. We'll be adding to this list as more appear, and with any luck, there will be enough that you can skip the dreadful halftime show.
Acura Acura was one of the stars of the 2012 Detroit Auto Show when it unveiled the prototype of the upcoming NSX sports car. Now it's capitalizing on that momentum with a Super Bowl ad that features not just the reborn sportscar, but none other than comedian and car enthusiast Jerry Seinfeld. Finding himself second in line to get the first NSX, Seinfeld embarks on a journey of fantastic promises to get the number one spot. It almost works, too...almost. Definitely watch this one until the end.

Audi While teenage girls (and some of their moms) are still crazy for Twilight, most of us have gotten pretty sick of those emo-vampires. So is Audi, apparently, with its ad for the new Audi A6's LED headlights. Normally headlights don't warrant their own commercial, but these are pretty cutting edge. Plus, you get to see what you've always secretly—or not so secretly—wanted to see when it comes to the Twilight vampires. It's also worth noting that the obvious pride the Audi owner has in his car is a better love story than Twilight.

Cadillac GM's luxury division is making no bones that its target for the compact ATS luxury-sport sedan is the BMW 3 Series. That's a pretty big check to write, and it'll be a few months before we can say for sure if GM can cash it, but on paper the ATS has the goods. This commercial shows some of the work that went into making this car, including extensive testing at the Nurburgring, a racetrack in Germany used by carmakers around the world for final engine and suspension tuning. No talking dogs or Star Wars here, just some great footage of a car on a great racetrack.

Chevrolet On the surface, this ad for the Chevy Volt is a guy talking to curious extraterrestrials about his car. But if you allow us to get all Freudian on it, there’s more going on. The exasperated owner (GM) explains for the umpteenth time to the aliens (buyers confused by unsubstantiated bad press) exactly what the Volt is and how it works. OK, maybe that’s deeper than Chevy meant to go with this ad, but the “we don’t get it” frustration is palpable nonetheless. On the other hand, it’s a cute commercial, if not exactly mind-blowing, and if you’re still unsure, it is a good explainer of how the Volt works. You can check out Chevy's other Super Bowl ads on its YouTube site, like this one for the 2012 Chevy Silverado, which is apparently the official truck of the Mayan apocalypse.

Chrysler Looking more like a political ad than one for cars—and with a similar tagline to one, too—Clint Eastwood narrates and stars in this virtually carless ad for Chrysler. The theme isn't just "buy our cars," although obviously that's implied. Rather, Eastwood talks about how it's "halftime in America," about how our diversity doesn't have to be divisive, and about how we as a nation pull together when times are tough. There's the now-familiar language from Chrysler ads about how if Detroit can get got on its feet we all can, and so forth. It's an effective ad, not because it makes you want to go out and buy a Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep or Fiat product. No, it's an effective ad because it just might make you want to shut off cable news.

Honda This Honda ad makes us a little sad, really. It starts with Matthew Broderick as himself, but pulling a Ferris Bueller and calling in sick to go enjoy a beautiful Los Angeles day. Cue the "chicka-chickaaaaaah" music and Bueller/Broderick gallivanting about town in a new 2012 Honda CR-V. It's one of those ads that probably sounded good at the time, but the execution falls flat, at least to us. What do you think?

Hyundai Hyundai actually has a handful of ads for the Super Bowl this year, but this is the one that struck a chord with us. It starts off with a designer expressing his frustration just as his boss (we assume) walks by. By the end of the ad, the whole company has helped to inspire the young designer to give it another go. The ad stars actual Hyundai employees, and exactly how they go about reinvigorating their colleague is worth watching.

Kia First, Kia gave us a teaser featuring supermodel Adriana Lima waving a checkered flag, along with a few words about the Kia Optima. Exactly where they were going with it was unknown...until now. The full ad showed up on YouTube today, and it's definitely surreal. Imagine the sandman sprinkling his dust on you. Then imagine if he accidentally spilled the whole bag on your head. Cue the Optima, a racetrack with stands populated by bikini models, lumberjacks sawing an enormous sandwich, and Motley Crue, of course. Does it work? You tell us.


Starting about an hour after the brand was first launched more than 20 years ago, Lexus has tried to shed its too-conservative image. The 2013 Lexus GS hopes to shake things up with an emphasis on sporty driving, and an expressive new grille design. That new face literally makes an impression in this new ad as the GS breaks out of its gray steel box (metaphors!) like a wild animal.

Suzuki Suzuki returns to the Super Bowl for 2012, and again it is promoting its all-wheel drive Kizashi sedan. It's a good car, easily the strongest product in Suzuki's lineup, and the fact that it's available with all-wheel drive does make it a compelling choice for wintery climates. We're not sure if it would really replace a dogsled team, but who knows? Just as an FYI, considering the automaker's likely tiny advertising budget, it's a good chance this is the only ad you'll see from them this year. So be polite and watch it. Update: Suzuki has actually updated the commercial with a new soundtrack, from 50 Cent. The company says the song's title, "Movin' On Up," fits perfectly with the commercial's theme. Remember, it's the exact same footage just with a different soundtrack. Compare them below, and share your thoughts. Original

50 Cent Version

Toyota Toyota wants you to know, or at least believe, that it has reinvented the 2012 Toyota Camry. As one of the best selling cars in history, we're not quite sure why Toyota seems so bent on reinventing it, but let's just roll with that for a minute. To reinforce its message, Toyota "reinvents" several other common household items, such as a couch, a houseplant, and even a baby. It's kinda cute, sorta clever, but overall it merits little more than a courtesy laugh from us.

Volkswagen It's probably too much to ask Volkswagen to follow up on its outstanding commercial from last year, with its pint-sized Darth Vader and all. It was epic, one of the best ads ever for anything. The idea of a dog getting in shape so it can chase a new 2012 Volkswagen Beetle down the street is cute, no doubt. But it's the non-sequitur ending that makes us think the whole Star Wars/Volkswagen tie-in has finally jumped the shark. Frankly, the teaser was better.