BMW, General Motors and Kia air Super Bowl ads featuring electric cars
The Super Bowl is a singular time for automakers: a chance to unveil big-budget ads with ridiculous premise, celebrity cameos, heartfelt ballads and… robot puppies. This year will be no different, except that a record number of seven-figure ads dropping will also feature an electric vehicle.
The average Super Bowl spot this year cost a record $6.5 million for 30 seconds, so it’s telling that General Motors, BMW, Kia and Polestar have launched into commercials featuring electric cars and cars. SUV. Nissan, one of the few automakers that chose not to advertise just an electric vehicle, briefly introduced its electric Ariya.
After slumps and starts in electric vehicle versions, automakers are launching dozens of new models over the next year. Many different factors — including automaker confidence, consumer interest, government investment and global competitiveness — are creating this moment for electric vehicles, not just in the United States, but around the world. Europe and China. “We are in the early stages of the biggest automotive industry transition since the invention of the car,” said Nick Nigro, head of the Atlas Public Policy research group. “The transition to electric is going to transform every facet, every aspect of building and manufacturing vehicles, and it’s a multi-trillion dollar market.”
To fight climate change, the United States will need to clean up transportation, which is responsible for 29 percent the country’s carbon emissions. Getting there in just a decade requires a boom in electric vehicle sales (as well as investment in bike and transit infrastructure). Today less than 1 percent of the 250 million cars, SUVs and trucks on the road today are fully electric. To meet the Paris climate targets, energy think tank RMI says at least One out of five global light-duty car sales must be all-electric by 2030. Biden administration goal is even more ambitious: half of all new car sales must be hybrid, electric or hydrogen by 2030.
Achieving these aggressive goals requires federal investment in charging infrastructure, tax credits to reduce upfront costs, and to make electric vehicles more cost-effective than the traditional gas-powered car. The electricity sector will also add a lot more clean energy, so when you plug an electric car into an outlet, it’s not running on coal. (There will be other challenges along the way, like the environmental and humanitarian issues related to heavy metals used in car batteries).
But consumer interest is also essential for electric vehicles to really take off – and that’s why this Super Bowl represents something of a watershed moment.
“What ads can do right now” is help electric vehicles go mainstream, said Britta Gross, chief executive of energy think tank RMI, which worked on electric vehicle strategy at General Motors. “Automakers don’t control demand, but they can work to build it to get everyone’s attention and start driving. [it]added Gross.
Everything is finally in place for the electric vehicle to really take off in the USA
The commercialization of electric vehicles has come a long, long way in the past 15 years. Atlas Public Policy’s Nick Nigro still cringes remember the 2010 Nissan Leaf ad where the driver was hugging a polar bear – an attempt to target environmentally conscious early adopters of electric vehicles.
This year’s Super Bowl ads are ditching environmental clichés in favor of a traditional mass-marketing strategy, laden with celebrities and sports cars.
General Motors is running an ad featuring the return of Austin Powers character Dr. Evil (played by Mike Myers) to take over the world – with an electric car. The plot doesn’t make much sense, but the ad introduces climate jargon like tailpipe emissions and carbon footprints into the prime-time spot to advertise GM’s lineup of 30 electric models by 2025.
GM made waves a year ago with its ad announcing the same range with Will Ferrell outraged that Norway is beating America in electric vehicle sales. The ad showed how the company had reversed course on its Trump-era attempts to weaken climate regulations for cars.
BMW, meanwhile, has recruited former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to star in its ad as a former Zeus which Salma Hayek’s Hera cheers him on with a 2022 BMW iX.
And the new Polestar company isn’t promising any gimmicks or puppies in a teaser for its spot in the Polestar 2.
Meanwhile, Kia is using a puppy – a robot – to advertise its EV6 model.
Hyundai does not run Super Bowl commercials, but has launch a massive advertising campaign for his Ioniq 5 EV during the NFL playoffs.
One of the reasons there are so many Super Bowl EV ads this year comes down to the simple fact that these TV ads drive sales. Kevin Krim, CEO of advertising analytics firm EDO, highlighted his company data showing that in 2021, Audi ads advertising an electric vehicle attracted 90% more viewers after searching for an Audi than when they advertised a conventional gasoline-powered Audi. This means that there are even more benefits for a car manufacturer to advertise an EV instead of a conventional car.
Manufacturers are also well aware of another important change coming: the bipartisan infrastructure bill that was passed by Congress last year has $7.5 billion start building thousands of charging stations across the country. The Biden administration was hoping for a second bill that would fund even more charging stations, fund tax credits and provide a cleaner transition for the grid; even though this reconciliation bill is dead, policies like the $12,500 tax credit per vehicle can still pass Congress. The Biden administration is also stepping up its exhaust pipe pollution regulationswhich means automakers will have to meet more ambitious efficiency standards across their entire fleets, which will incentivize them to produce electric vehicles.
Finally, companies like GM and Ford are monitoring the growth of the electric vehicle market around the world and trying to maintain their competitiveness by increasing their sales in the United States. “China and the EU will move forward no matter what,” Gross said. “Yes [US companies] want to sell cars and trucks globally, we have to be in this game. What does it mean for GDP if you are no longer able to export vehicles? This is a big problem for our economy.
Super Bowl ads may be goofy, celebrity-driven attempts to whet the appetite of a larger mass market, but that doesn’t mean automakers have totally figured out how to sell electric cars. Luxury electric vehicles have found buyers, which Krim attributes to Tesla. But for the electric vehicle to truly overtake the gas-powered car, automakers need to reach other market segments.
All of this helps explain why the electric vehicle advertising industry is booming. According to Krim’s company, in 2019, there were 8,000 advertisements for electric vehicles. In 2021, there were 33,000 ads, quadruple the number.
Experts predict that more and more companies will tout the practical and cost-effective features to really appeal to the masses. “As non-luxury automakers are moving into electric vehicle offerings, they’re showcasing the convenience of not having to refuel, the benefits of being all-electric,” Krim said.