While perhaps no Super Bowl ad can match the green (and controversy) of last year's "Eco-Police" spot from Audi, there were some commercials last night that caught my attention for their environmental angle. Let's see who the winners (and losers) of this niche category were!
1. Chevy Volt "Discovery" ad
For its new electric Volt (which recently scooped up a number of Car of the Year honors), Chevy went with a high-production look at big events in "electric" history — from Benjamin Franklin and his kite to a bunch of geeks building the first PC in a garage. The bit culminates with a Volt being charged and the narrator saying that history is now being made "at the end of a power cord."
Grade: A-: A nice obnoxious-free introduction. I would have loved some more insight into how the Volt actually works, but perhaps next year, after production ramps up more (and hopefully, costs start to come down), Chevy will work a bit harder to get people interested in the car and not just aware of how revolutionary it is.
2. Bridgestone Tires "Carma" ad
Man helps beaver. Beaver helps man. Everyone wins.
Grade A+: Easy win for Bridgestone — cute, hip animals are generally beloved by the public. Sure, we might not remember that it's a tire commercial, but having people still smiling when your logo flashes up on the screen is definitely worth something.
3. BMW Advanced Diesel "Changes" ad
While diesel engines are more efficient than their gasoline counterparts, they're still stuck with the baggage of earlier days, when smoke and noise were the norm. BMW is attempting to change all that with this new ad, showing how their car is quiet and clean compared to other, older diesel engines. (Though in the YouTube comments, there are a few angry Mercedes fans who feel their diesel classics are being misrepresented.)
Grade: B+: While not many of us can afford a BMW, I still like seeing the automaker plug diesel as a clean-burning alternative to gasoline. I think they got the point across that the engines of old are not the engines of today — though they probably ticked off a few people in the process.
4. Chevy Cruze Eco "Misunderstanding" ad
Yes, another Chevy ad, but they were the big sponsors of the night and from a marketing angle very eager to get the public in their cars again. Anyways, this spot for the 42MPG Chevy Cruze features several older residents at a nursing home debating what exactly the ad is trying to pitch. Basically, everyone is deaf. Get it?
Grade: B: You can fall into two camps on this one: you appreciate old people-who-can't-hear humor or you found it mildly offensive/annoying. With almost 500,000 views on YouTube, this one has apparently caught the love of the first group — so Chevy scores. Personally I enjoyed the "It's a cruise for plus-sized individuals" line.
5. Volkswagen "Black Beetle" ad
Pixar play attention. You should scoop up whatever firm created this photo-realistic lush world featuring a rocking beetle tearing through the undergrowth. I would have thought this was some kind of stop-motion gig.
Grade: A: Yes, another car ad, but kudos to VW for mixing it up a bit. Plus, with almost 2 million views on YouTube, they've certainly made lots of folks eager to see their new 21st century take on the iconic VW Bug. And how could you dislike an ad featuring Ram Jam's awesome song "Black Betty" and sparring preying mantises?
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