Archive for the ‘Super Bowl Commercials’ Category

The dust has settled around Super Bowl XLV and the public has voted.  Volkswagen of America took the top honors for favorite car commercial.  “The Force” appeals to the generation of parents who grew up on the Star Wars films. People know the characters, lines from the movies as well as John Williams’ iconic scores, including “The Imperial March.”

The commercial advertises the upcoming 2012 Passat sedan, built in VW’s brand new North American facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  I’m not sure if it will sell the Passat (whenever it arrives later this year), but the little kid in the Darth Vader outfit is beyond adorable.  The commercial itself cost almost nothing to cast and shoot, but I’m sure Lucasfilm Ltd. got a big fat check for the use of the character and John Williams for the music.  It cost VW $6 million to air the one minute commercial; but with a Super Bowl viewership of 111 million and nearly 30 million views on YouTube, they got a huge bang for their buck.

The most surprising commercial was Chrysler’s two minute film entitled “Born of Fire” or “Imported from Detroit” featuring the music, image and voice over of  the brilliant, supremely talented, but troubled Detroit-based rapper, Eminem (Marshall Mathers).  The images of Detroit are rich and dark, uplifting and sobering. It shows a city that has been through hell and is only now emerging.

The problem with this beautifully-shot and well-written “feel good” commercial is that it features the wrong car. The car should have been for the revamped 300C, not a face-lifted Sebring, renamed the 200.  The Chrysler 200 is not a luxury car, so when the video talks about luxury, you have to scratch your head.  The screaming headline in this week’s issue of Automotive News says “Super Buzz: Chrysler dealers aim to cash in on the surprising 200 commercial.”

Not so fast.  As only Peter De Lorenzo,  the Editor, can put it:

But I am now going to throw some icy cold water on this spot — and the reaction to it — because it’s simply out of hand. Our local media in particular has been flat-out sickening in its gushing, over-the-top praise, as if it was the only spot worth talking about on the Super Bowl. Well guess what? It wasn’t. And it does no good for people in this town to say how great the spot was because ultimately what the people in this town think about it doesn’t matter. It’s what everyone else across America thinks about it. And by the way, Chrysler choosing the pathetic 200 for the spot was a monumental miss. The 200 remains a rolling monument to automotive tedium and no matter how much make-up and lipstick you put on a pig, it’s still a pig. The spot should have featured the 300 or shouldn’t have mentioned a specific car at all. It would have been just fine as a Chrysler corporate postcard to Detroit and leave it at that.

I couldn’t agree more with Peter. This commercial isn’t going to sell the 200. It will take a miracle to sell more units to customers than to rental fleets.

Here’s the commercial; see what you think.  (And if you want to learn more about Eminem, you should check out his October 2010 interview on 60 Minutes with Anderson Cooper.)

The BMW 335d sedan has been around for three years now, and it finally has advertising support from BMW – during the 2011 Super Bowl, no less.

2011 BMW 335d Sedan

The 335d is powered by BMW’s outstanding 3.0 liter common-rail diesel engine with twin turbos rated at 265 hp with an intoxicating 425 lb-ft of torque smoking the rear wheels.   It’s BMW’s most powerful and least fuel-efficient six-cylinder diesel engine, but it still manages an EPA rating of 23/36 mpg.  It’s considered a clean diesel because it uses a urea-based exhaust scrubber that makes it a 50-state legal engine, which is no small feat in California.  Diesel-powered vehicles in California must meet the same low emissions standards as their gasoline-powered siblings.

As regular readers know, I’m a big fan of diesel power and fuel efficiency.  I have a 1995 Mercedes E300 Diesel that just turned over 100,000 miles (today) and is still solid as a rock, returning average fuel economy in the 30 mpg range.  I would have loved the 335d, however, I choked at BMW’s egregious price.  It starts at $44,150, but by the time you add all the features that should be standard, it’s pushing $60,000. That’s M3 territory or you could move up the food chain to an entry-level 528i sedan, which starts at $45,050 and gets 32 mpg on the highway.

A sighting of the 335d is rare, not just because it looks nearly identical to its 328i and 335i gasoline-powered siblings but because BMW sells so few of them.  Hint to BMW, the diesel premium is so high it will take a decade to pay it back with savings at the fuel pump. It would also help if BMW had a cheap lease deal on the 335d like they have on the 328i and 335i cars. No such luck.

So why the marketing muscle now? At $3 million for 30 seconds, that probably wiped out any profit BMW made on the 335d for the entire time it’s been on the market in the U.S.  As a standard 3-series sedan, it’s hardly aspirational or sensationally sporty.  Go with an M3 or the Z4 sDrive35is or the all-new 6-series to play that game.

Is the 335d some sort of green-tinged halo car? I don’t think so, but no one is buying the X6 ActiveHybrid either.  The Active Hybrid X6 starts at a mind-numbing $88,900 and returns a completely unimpressive 19 mpg highway.

2011 BMW X6 ActiveHybrid

Oh well, even if I can’t figure out the economics or perplexing “why now” for the promotion, I loved the ad and here it is: