Sunday is Super Bowl LII, which means America will immerse itself in high-calorie potluck fare, garish halftime-show entertainment (Justin Timberlake, bringing sexy back, but not that kind), the most expensive and over-the-top TV ads of the year, and — oh yeah — a football game between two teams connected by Amtrak's Northeast Corridor line. What else you gonna do on the first Sunday of February?
As usual, automakers plan big, splashy TV spots to reach all those gajillions of eyeballs glued to the teevee, though the list may be shorter than in previous years. Here's a roundup of what we know is coming.
Hyundai will test the football/futbol divide with a 60-second spot starring a youth-soccer ref who arrives for the game dramatically and just in time in his 2018 Kona. Only it's Super Bowl Sunday, so he — along with the two coaches, and apparently most of the parents — are eager to get on with their game-day plans. Advantage: football, being the message, we guess. The ad does make a quick plug for Hyundai's BlueLink nav system, but this is only nominally about the car.
Hyundai also plans a 60-second ad that recognizes people fighting pediatric cancers and highlights its own nonprofit organization that focuses on the cause, according to Reuters.
The Korean automaker will put Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler behind the wheel of its new Stinger on an abandoned racetrack. The former "American Idol" host promptly puts it into reverse, going back to his '70s heyday, courtesy of some CGI, to the strains of "Dream On" played backwards. Trotting out an almost-70-year-old to relive some classic rock glory fits the Super Bowl template to a T. Two-time Formula One and Indianapolis 500 champ Emerson Fittipaldi also makes a cameo. It airs in the third quarter.
Lexus teams with Marvel Studios to preview its forthcoming movie "Black Panther," which arrives in theaters Feb. 16. In "Long Live The King," the Black Panther, a.k.a. King T'Challa, played by Chadwick Boseman, dispatches some bad guys to recover stolen Vibranium after clinging to the roof of a speeding 2018 LS 500 F Sport, driven by co-star Danai Gurira. He later literally drops into a different LS 500 driven by Shuri, played by Letitia Wright. The luxury coupe's exterior and interior get plenty of screen time as the car zips through downtown L.A. at night. A 30-second version of the spot, which is soundtracked by a Run the Jewels song, will air in the third quarter.
The brand will launch its "Last Man Standing" challenge at kickoff by promising the winner a brand-new Mercedes-AMG C43 Coupe. Like the old dealership promo, all you have to do is keep your finger on the car as it shimmies around the screen of your phone, with the last person touching it declared the winner. A live counter will list the number of players remaining as the difficulty increases. So make sure your phone is charged. You can begin "training" at LastFanStanding.com.
Update: Toyota on Friday said it will air three ads from two different campaigns during the Super Bowl — two from its new global "Start Your Impossible" campaign, focusing on its shift to mobility and tied to its sponsorship of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and the third from its longtime "Let's Go Places" campaign. You can watch the former two below; none are likely to focus much on actual cars.
The second ad, called "One Team" will air during just before the halftime show and will be unveiled Saturday, Toyota says. The 60-second spot will be a lighthearted look at how sports unites people from diverse backgrounds.
In the second half, it'll air a 30-second spot called "Mobility Anthem" that showcases its range of mobility technologies, featuring people of diverse abilities and different stages in life.
We include the custom-website company because its 40-second spot stars Keanu Reeves riding one of his Arch Motorcycles KRGT-1 superbikes in the desert, engaging in some soul-searching about launching a motorcycle company and building a website for it. It's midlife-crisis as comedy. The director's cut is highly worth watching too, as Reeves performs his own impressive stunt.