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Super Bowl LV Ads: A Very Different Tone

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Each year, we enjoy analyzing the different commercials offered up as part of the presentation of the Super Bowl, the great American sports spectacle. Of course, in our particular case, our attention is focused on the ads produced by automakers.

Usually, we wouldn’t have too much difficulty coming up with ten of them. But this year, because of the pandemic and the uncertainty surrounding the presentation of the event, there were only five spots directly related to auto manufacturers. Four of these were from American brands, and the fifth was from a firm that is heavily involved in the United States.

Electrification, hope and recognition were the main topics touched on. Let's look at it in a nutshell.

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GM led the way with two ads. The first featured actor Will Ferrell, making a plea for the U.S. to catch up with Norway in electric vehicle sales. The amusing ad showed the future Cadillac Lyriq, as well as GMC’s Hummer EV.

We see Cadillac again in a second, brilliant ad that gives a nod to Tim Burton's classic film Edward Scissorhands. It shows Edward’s son, facing the same challenges as his father, which prevents him from driving any vehicle... except a Cadillac Lyriq equipped with the Super Cruise autonomous driving system. A clever idea, well-executed.

Ford, for its part, paid tribute to healthcare workers with a video showing us Americans performing daily tasks in times of pandemic. Delivered via the voice of Brian Cranston (Walter White from the Breaking Bad series), the message had an interesting scope and strongly emphasized the American patriotic character trait.

The same approach was taken by Jeep, which played the Re-United States card, seeing how divisive the past year had been for the American nation. For the occasion, we see Bruce Springsteen, the icon of American rock, at the wheel of an old Jeep, another very strong American symbol that citizens of all political allegiances can relate to.

Finally, as we touched on last week, Toyota was present with an ad that featured no new vehicle (just like Ford’s and Jeep’s ads, I should mention). Instead, the emphasis was on the manufacturer's role as a sponsor of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams.

A very different tone, therefore, in these times that are just vastly different. And it was the right tone to take; now here’s hoping that Super Bowl LVI takes place in a much more normal world.