Ranting About GM’s Electric Vehicle Super Bowl Ads (Ugh)

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Okay, I’ve got to do it.

Will Ferrell Norway EV Ad


First of all, there was the big Norway/Will Ferrell ad that came out a few days ago. I absolutely love Will Ferrell. So, yeah, I don’t see any way you could watch the ad and not enjoy Will Ferrell’s superb, unique, heartwarming comedic brilliance. I smiled and loved that side of it, and so did my young daughters. You can’t not love Will Ferrell, and if you don’t love him, get the heck off my lawn!

That said, the commercial was stupid (as in, illogical), confusing (because it was illogical), and invited more shame than praise (because it was illogical in deeper ways than one might think at first watch). Let’s just roll down a list of 10 reasons the commercial was stupid:

  1. Yes, Norway’s leading the world on electric vehicle adoption. That’s something to celebrate, not something to get angry about and go try to crush. (I get it, the idea is to “crush Norway” by doing even better, but the ad itself actually focused on punching a globe and trying to travel to the country to “crush” someone/something/Norway.)
  2. There is no crushing Norway in EV adoption. Norway basically already won. 81% of new auto sales in Norway were plugin vehicle sales last month. 81%. The US is somewhere around 2% or 3%. The US has far less chance of catching up to Norway than the Kansas City Chiefs had of catching up to the Tampa Bay Bucs after halftime. (Spoiler alert: Tampa Bay brought home another Covid-era trophy.)
  3. GM talking up its EVs and trying to smack-talk Norway is … beyond odd. Unlike several other companies (almost every other automaker, in fact), GM has only one electric vehicle on the market. It just sells the Chevy Bolt, as has been the case for years. If you want to hype some coming niche EVs, great, but don’t act like you’re comin’ for Norway.
  4. In case it wasn’t obvious by now, Norway is a country and GM is an automaker. They’re not only not in the same league; they’re not even in the same sport. Norway deals with legislation, deep state efforts to make the lives of its citizens better, and avoiding wars. GM builds trucks, SUVs, and a few cars. The breakdown in logical on this fundamental matter is just grating. Countries don’t compete against companies!
  5. Actually, if we do want to talk legislation, though, GM has spent years trying to weaken fuel economy standards, fight legislators who have been working to “clean up transport,” and delay EV adoption. In fact, GM even sided with the Trump administration in its fight against California’s fuel economy standards! GM has been working for years via lobbying and cultural messaging to specifically not allow a US EV market like Norway’s EV market to take shape.
  6. Let me repeat: GM lobbying and consumer communications are key reasons why US EV adoption sucks compared to Norway EV adoption.
  7. Where did Keenan get his Hummer EV — it’s not being produced yet, and it’s certainly not available in Europe, where he presumably rented it from UFODrive after flying over there?
  8. For that matter, where did Will get his Cadillac Lyriq, which also isn’t for sale? (Side note: I do love the Lyriq, by the way.)
  9. Even if these vehicles were on the market, they are so niche. These are not mass-market EVs! We’re talking about a luxury-class SUV that a small number of people will buy and an electric Hummer, which even fewer people will buy. How does it make sense in anyone’s mind that these niche vehicles are going to somehow compete with mass EV adoption in Norway. (And, again, let’s just point out #4, since it’s such an annoying absurdity in the attempted logic of this commercial.)
  10. What message was an uninformed viewer supposed to get? That Norway is hard to find, is cold, and sells a lot of … um … what does it sell? That GM has some new electric vehicles coming that … well … did we learn anything about the vehicles? The commercial passed along almost no notable pieces of information.
  11. Will Ferrell drives into a shipping container while getting onto a ship headed to Norway. Then he’s on the ship standing on the edge while throwing up from sea sickness. How does that make sense? He got locked into the shipping container and wouldn’t be able to get out on the trip back over to the United States.

Edward/Edgar Scissorhands — Double Ugh


So, we got a weird reminder of an old movie classic, a movie that came out more than 30 years ago. We then got several jokes about things you couldn’t do well if you had scissorhands, things that Edgar Scissorhands certainly wouldn’t do unless he lacked a lot of brain cells. In the end, he could do something easily at long last — drive a car — because the Cadillac drove for him. Little explanation was given for why he could drive stress-free as a result Cadillac SuperCruise. In fact, it was too short and too busy to even make the basic point well.

The idea that Edgar can finally do something (drive) because he doesn’t have to do anything (the car drives itself) is at least consistent with the other GM EV commercial in that it doesn’t make any logical sense. Edgar Scissorhands is happy because he can drive by not doing anything except pressing a button?

Did I like anything about this commercial? Well, for one brief moment, they show the Lyriq in the driveway, and it looks beautiful. It looks really good, especially with the cool lighting around the charge port, which indicates it’s electric. If they had spent a bit longer on that shot, I imagine it would help a lot more viewers to notice and would be a more effective ad.

The other good thing about the ad is that its memorable because it brings back a very memorable character — a Goth with large scissors for hands. If someone decides they do want to watch the commercial again and figure out what it’s about, it an easy one to remember and find again.

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Overall, if I didn’t know what the vehicles in the commercials were about, I’m pretty sure I would not understand what is special about them aside from them being expensive new GM vehicles.

Yep, Will Ferrell is hilarious. That’s about all the GM vehicles had going for them, in my humble opinion.

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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