Super Bowl ads cost $7 million for a 30-second spot this year. In the early years of the Super Bowl, companies created ads as a way to introduce themselves to the US. Eventually, the biggest repeat spenders — Budweiser, Pepsi, and Coca-Cola — became mainstream companies whose names have become synonymous with the products they sell. The 2023 Super Bowl commercials seem to have come full circle, as automakers are using the most popular unofficial US holiday to publicize their new catalog of electric vehicles (EVs). In doing so, the companies are establishing reimagined brand identities before 114 million viewers.
Digital Branding & the 2023 Super Bowl
Today, digital technologies in vehicles represent at least 50% of the total value of a vehicle. Lots of these changes are possible because the digital age has met the need for sustainable transportation — the disruptive effect resulting from digitalization is the most important phenomenon in the auto industry’s 140-year history.
But the digital world has another function for automakers, too: in a moment in time in which the internet is overflowing with information, having an excellent and unique product or service, or brand visibility, is not enough. A company must impart brand authenticity through digital marketing. Indeed, Forbes suggests that digital brands have a high calling to be transparent, be consistent in messaging and branding initiatives, and be able to demonstrate that, even in a shifting landscape, their business values remain honest.
Digital branding is a communication strategy that’s implemented with the use of the internet and digital marketing to enhance a brand’s attributes, establish its presence, and promote the brand. As automakers launch EVs, they find themselves needing to accelerate the time it takes to measure consumer sentiment, engagement, and site-level metrics due to the rapidly changing automotive landscape. According to the iconic pop culture chronicler Neilsen, once a brand’s new EV hits the showroom, marketers who set up a feedback loop to process and measure engagement, consideration, and purchase intent will be better positioned to accelerate sales.
That means it’s imperative for automakers to transmit a message that resonates in the minds of consumers from ad impressions. This year’s Super Bowl commercials helped automakers to move their existing customer base toward new and important brand connections with EVs. Jeep, GM, and Stellantis used the fascination with Super Bowl commercials to reimagine their brands and reinvigorate their consumer base.
Jeep’s International “Electric Boogie”
Jeep’s one-minute Super Bowl spot highlighted the brand’s electrified off-roaders. The company’s “Electric Boogie” commercial follows the Wrangler 4xe and Grand Cherokee 4xe in a variety of simulated off-road situations. The accompanying soundtrack features the song’s original artist, Marcia Griffiths, in combination with Grammy winner Shaggy, Jamila Falak, Amber Lee, and Moyann.
Although debuting at the 2023 Super Bowl, Jeep’s EV commercial is intended for a global audience. That’s because the company sells vehicles in more than 100 countries and has acquired international rights to the new “Electric Boogie” campaign.
Stellantis — “Premature Electrification?”
Stellantis’ 60-second Super Bowl ad for its Ram brand pokes fun at this year’s EV pickup truck market with a commercial titled “Premature Electrification” that spoofs ads for male sex enhancement drugs. It features EV owners discussing problems they’ve had with their trucks — from insufficient range and power, to problems charging and other potential issues associated with EVs.
“Are you excited about buying an electric vehicle but worry that it could leave you … unsatisfied?” says the ad’s star and narrator Jason Jones, a comedian best known for his work on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and for appearing in comedic Budweiser and Molson ads. “Then you could be one of many Americans concerned about premature electrification.”
The ad debuts the production version of the Ram 1500 REV electric pickup that is expected to go on sale next year. Online reservations for the electric pickup, which emerged as a concept in January, also opened Sunday. The vehicle resembles the concept but also the current Ram pickup, which has a traditional internal combustion engine.
GM is Going Electric Onscreen
GM is spending millions to advertise its recent deal with Netflix to work its EVs into the streaming service’s TV shows and movies. Growing awareness through the Super Bowl game, the two companies aired a co-branded ad that promoted the collaboration to use their “respective strengths to help normalize EVs.”
The spot, called “EVs on Screen,” stars Will Ferrell interacting with a zombie from the film Army of the Dead as well as some characters from the various hit series Squid Game, Bridgerton, and Stranger Things. GM’s product placements with Netflix include the GMC Hummer EV pickup, Chevy Sierra Denali, Chevy Blazer, Chevy Silverado, and Cadillac Lyriq.
“As a result of the partnership, Netflix is supporting and educating creators, helping them to better understand how EVs can complement and enhance their stories. Over the course of the next year, inspired by this partnership, GM EVs will be seen in select Netflix shows and films, including Love is Blind, Queer Eye, and Unstable, which will feature the Chevrolet Bolt EUV, GMC HUMMER EV Pickup, and Cadillac LYRIQ respectively.”
Ferrell previously appeared in other EV campaigns by GM.
Final Thoughts about EVs & Super Bowl Ads
Sales of electric vehicles in the US jumped in 2022, increasing by two-thirds while the rest of the auto market contracted. The adoption of EVs is rising sharply as the global push for net zero carbon emissions accelerates. EVs will make up about half of new car sales worldwide by 2035, according to Goldman Sachs Research.
The EV ecosystem is a mixture of research and innovation, investment and production. More than anything, it has taken a leap of faith from many constituent groups that transportation electrification could work en masse. And now it will take even more effort, energy, and vision to move automotive consumers to transportation electrification.
The influx of EVs commercials during the 2023 Super Bowl was fun, and it gave EV aficionados a chance to talk up their vehicle selections with lesser informed drivers in an informal and non-threatening party setting. What none of these entertaining commercials did, however, was explain why the world is transitioning away from fossil fuel-powered mobility.
New fuel-economy regulations are being passed to reinforce the need to move toward zero emissions transportation. The 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act shows promise of a much stronger national charging infrastructure building out over the next 5 years. Now we need automakers and their marketing teams to join in with consumer education, so that owning an EV is a whole lot more than fun — they’re an absolute necessity if we are to hold the world to 1.5 degrees Celsius warming.
Understanding the impacts of 1.5°C global warming above pre-industrial levels and related global emission pathways in the context of strengthening the response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty is part of conscientious automaking in the current era.
Automakers need to join in to debunk fossil fuel mouthpieces, to address EV vs. internal combustion engine parity issues, to assure equal EV access across demographic groups, to address and assure consumers that EVs can be part of most US households, and to be easy and accessible sources of consumer information about EVs. That’s how automakers will create the biggest impact with consumers.
We have reached out to Jeep, Stellantis, and GM with some follow-up questions, and will update this article if we hear back.
Featured image courtesy of Stellantis via PR Newswire.
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