With electric cars still supercharging the stock market, it’s no surprise that several automakers made electric vehicles—like the upcoming Chevy Silverado EV, with "Sopranos" star power—the focus for their ads on Super Bowl Sunday.
Two big GM Super Bowl ads, including a second reprising Mike Myers' Austin Powers megalomaniac, had a lot to measure up to. Last year’s GM ad was a raucous, brilliantly produced Will Ferrell affair, in which the actor finds out that Norwegians buy way more electric cars per capita than Americans. It brought on a Game of Thrones response from Norway and Audi.
GM 2021 Super Bowl ad starring Will Ferrell
EV Super Bowl ads also had an especially strong year in 2020, with the preview of the GMC Hummer EV; a group of sneaky museum “thieves” speeding away in the Taycan and classic Porsches; and a musical suggestion from Audi, about gasoline, that you “Let It Go.”
That year marked a turning point. Prior to 2020, there were just a handful of instances in which automakers were brave enough to advertise EVs during America’s Big Game, but the message was muddled. There was Audi’s confusing "Office Space" meets "Field of Dreams" meets "Back to the Future" ad from 2019, featuring the E-Tron GT, which has just recently started arriving in the U.S., and BMW’s 2015 Super Bowl ad for the i3, with Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel.
2019 Audi Super Bowl ad,
There have even been some “alternative” Super Bowl ads—such as an especially noteworthy one last year about “Mr. E” and the Porsche Taycan.
In the meantime check out what we’re aware of for this year below. And we’ll add more info after they air in full on Sunday.
Zeus finds his mojo with the iX
BMW has released two parts of its BMW iX Super Bowl adventure, featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Salma Hayek, as Zeus, the Greek god of thunder and his wife Hera, respectively. Zeus is attempting to cope with the modern world, and retirement in Palm Springs has sapped his spirits—until he sees the BMW iX SUV. Just pretend you don’t hear Eddy Grant’s "Electric Avenue" or MGMT’s "Electric Feel" (watch it to see which of these overplayed EV-launch tunes is used here).
Chevy Silverado EV plugs into a Sopranos reunion
If you've watched "The Sopranos," you know that GM's full-size SUVs play a prominent role in the show—and in its opening sequence. The Chevrolet-brand Big Game commercial features Jamie-Lynn Sigler, who played Tony Soprano's daughter, Meadow, driving a fully electric Chevy Silverado EV pickup and largely recreating that opener—but with some twists, including an arrival at a charging station and a meeting with another Soprano family member. Actually directed by Sopranos creator David Chase and featuring the same song "Woke Up This Morning," from Alabama 3, it manages to convey the same warm yet unsettling tone that pulled us into the show.
Dr. EVil’s takeover of General Motors
Mike Myers’ Dr. Evil, of Austin Powers fame is back to parody more than 1960s spy flicks. In it, Dr. EVil takes over General Motors and finds out about the Ultium platform and climate change—with a new plan to save the world first, then take over the world. With Rob Lowe, Seth Green, and Mindy Sterling all returning, it’s an all-star cast. Is this GM trolling itself? It’s hard to tell, which is what might elevate from stinker to stinger.
Kia and the robot dog: Yes, there’s a connection
In a Kia ad for the EV6, a cute, big-eyed robot dog spots the Kia electric car and tracks it down, arriving just in time for… Let’s just say that everything needs a charge. And Bonnie Tyler’s "Total Eclipse of the Heart" makes sure that boomers aren’t, ehem, turning around during it.
Nissan suggests the EV is the main attraction
Eugene Levy becomes a grunting, long-locked action star driving the new Nissan Z sports car. But Catherine O’Hara (yes, reprising "Schitt’s Creek" and “Best in Show”) is driving to the big debut in an Ariya electric crossover. This one definitely plays up to action-flick gender stereotypes. But as the ladies get in front for a fast exit in the Ariya, perhaps it’s about breaking them?
Polestar keeps on brand
Polestar’s Super Bowl commercial is cleverly free of distractions—like supermodels, flag-waving, explosions, monkeys, parodies, and remixes, just to pull a few of the things that it said in an ad teaser wouldn't be making an appearance. And the ad itself makes some jabs, for sure—"No Dieselgate," "No conquering Mars." For all that isn’t included, this is a first in at least one respect—the first Super Bowl ad from a car company that’s in the middle of a SPAC deal.
Wallbox talks “issues”
In what feels like the least gimmicky EV-related ad of the Super Bowl, the narrator explains he has “issues” with electricity, but Wallbox is somehow helping him move forward to save time and the environment. Smart charging needs to be more than therapy for the EV-averse, and so while we were hoping for more of a hook in a full-length ad, it unfortunately plugs into a litany of EV-adoption cliches.
UPDATE: Roundup originally published 2/11; refreshed 2/14 to include full-length versions and the Chevy Silverado EV/Sopranos ad.