Best Super Bowl ads (Part Two)

Volkswagen, Chrysler and the NFL have drawn on pop culture iconography in classic spots aired during the Super Bowl.


Volkswagen released this spot on YouTube several days before last year’s Super Bowl and gained plenty of hype in the process. It didn’t take long for the video to go viral, amassing more than 10 million views before the game kicked off. Still, the commercial was new for most of the 53.3 million American households that tuned into last year’s game, and many overnight polls had viewers pegging “The Force” as their favourite ad from the telecast. The accolades didn’t stop after the game, either. The ad picked up two awards at the 2011 Cannes Lions Festival and was named Adweek’s top commercial from last year. American Volkswagen’s general manager of brand marketing said, “Sometimes you discuss an idea for the first time, and you just know you have something special.” (Matt Lundy)

NFL, “American Family”

Sure, it’s a promotional campaign for the league, but how often do you see John Stamos, Jerry Seinfeld and Tony Soprano sharing screen time in their finest football gear?  The CGI-heavy spot is a mash-up of TV’s biggest stars, past and present, gearing up for the Super Bowl while wearing jerseys of current NFL superstars. The commercial also does a fine job of matching each TV show’s location to its characters’ (likely) rooting interests. (For instance, Happy Days was set in Wisconsin, so the Fonz is naturally a Packers fan.) To get an idea of how impressive the CGI was, check out this video with a split-screen comparison of the edited version alongside its source material. (ML)

CHRYSLER, “Born of Fire”

Before Chrysler debuted its “Born of Fire” commercial at last year’s Super Bowl, the auto company had to gain approval from the National Football League. The reason? The spot ran two minutes in length, though most in-game ad breaks last 90 seconds and are rigorously controlled by the league. Fortunately, Chrysler secured the extended time slot—costing them US$9 million in the process—and filled it with a gritty portrait of Detroit and its auto industry, using Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” to bolster the ad’s defiant tone.

Joel Martin, principal of Eight Mile Style Music and co-owner of Eminem’s music catalogue, told Advertising Age that he and Eminem had previously turned down “over 100 deals to use the song in ads before agreeing to sell it to Chrysler.” Credit the unconventional salesmanship of Olivier Francois, CEO of the Chrysler brand, for landing the much-coveted track. Francois popped by Martin’s office almost unannounced, professed his love for Detroit and Eminem, and came away with the song that infused “Born of Fire” with its rugged swagger. Martin affectionately refers to Francois as “a maniac.”(ML)