Toyota Prius Super Bowl Ad Is…..Interesting?


Heck On Wheels! That’s what the new Toyota Prius is, if you believe this video that will debut during the Super Bowl on Sunday. Toyota is desperate to attract younger drivers to the Prius brand. At present, the average age of Prius drivers is almost as old as Buick owners. That’s not a good thing. It wants people to know its all new fourth generation car is sporty and fun to drive.

The world of automobiles is changing at a furious pace. Younger Americans are less interested in owning a car. Many welcome the coming “car sharing” paradigm that will let them rent a car only when they need one. The absence of monthly payments for a car loan and insurance, coupled with no expenses for fuel or parking sound pretty attractive to lots of city dwellers who are fed up with congestion and a lack of parking spaces.

So, is a Toyota Prius really “heck on wheels”? It’s interesting the title substitutes “Heck on wheels” for the much more powerful and emotionally charged “Hell on wheels,” especially when the lyrics to the accompanying song contain such words as “badass” and “mother trucking.” One can only imagine what shenanigans the director of  the video had to go though to get this low powered front wheel drive car to power slide through corners.

At the end, the star, who identifies himself as “Todd with a job,” is surrounded by a collection of the nerdiest geeks ever assembled on a single set. All of them look like refugees from their mother’s basement. They play exploding guitars and electronic zithers, as the pulsate around the parking lot in a scene worthy of a Black Sabbath concert. Are 20 somethings really that much into heavy metal from the 80’s? Toyota obviously thinks so.

Toyota Prius Super Bowl ad

Super Bowl ads are a mirror of American popular culture. They are watched by more people than a Donald Trump press conference. At $3 million for a 30 second spot, they can pay huge dividends it they connect with the audience. Kia’s happy hamster ads turned the dowdy Kia Soul into a hot selling, ultra cool ride. One of my personal favorites was The Magic Fridge, which almost made me want to drink light beer, before I came to my senses.

Every ad tells a story. It has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Most are laden with psychological motivators designed to make people want to open their wallets and buy stuff. Ads are also a way of transmitting cultural norms to viewers. You can read more about this phenomenon in a blog entry entitled Let’s Analyze Super Bowl Commercials! posted by master teacher Carolyn Fortuna on her website IDigIt Media.

What do you think of this ad? Does it appeal to its audience? Will it make the Prius the darling of the under 30 set? Let us know in the comments below.

About the Author

I have been a car nut since the days when Rob Walker and Henry N. Manney, III graced the pages of Road & Track. Today, I use my trusty Miata for TSD rallies and occasional track days at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. If it moves on wheels, I'm interested in it. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.
  • Tadeusz Piskozub

    Well, they certainly nailed it with the main character’s appearance and morning habits. As for all the other things… I believe this started as a good idea, but unfortunately got tampered with by the – so called – “suits”.

    • Steve Hanley

      I’m sure the process was monitored all the way to the top of Toyota’s executive ranks. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mr. Toyoda signed off on it personally. He is the one who pushed back the introduction of the 4th gen car for almost a year so it could be made more “sporty” and youth oriented.

      I thought the ducks were an obvious rip off of the highly successful AFLAC commercials.

  • Power slides in a front wheel drive? It is all obviously tongue-in-cheek but how does that sell?

    • Steve Hanley

      Well, the car is supposed to be “sporty”! I owned a Prius for a while. No way all the electronic nannies built into it would allow the rear wheels to step out of line a millimeter without activating the Vehicle Stability Control. Nothing kills a “sporty” vibe faster than being faced with a dashboard full of blinking warning lights and hearing alarms going off everywhere.

      The first time it happened to me, I was so surprised I almost lost control of the car! : – 0

      “Sporty” and “Prius” are two words that should never be used in the same sentence.

      • The improved suspension on the 2017 Prius will be welcome.

        I am hoping they release the specs on the Plugin Prius, soon. Maybe it will have the electric rear wheel drive?

  • gendotte

    I am an owner, and I like the ad. It’s funny, and would make me want to buy another one

  • Rob Andrews

    So 2016 0-60 time is… 9.7seconds not exactly sporty, will 2017 be tesla fast? Bolt fast (7 second 0-60)? Toyota has lost its way and has now jumped the shark!