Dream On: Kia's Steven Tyler Super Bowl Ad Is a Bizarre Bummer

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

While the staff at The Truth About Cars doesn’t decide a vehicle’s worth based on the advertising it’s associated with, we sometimes critique the choices automakers make within the marketing spectrum. Whether it’s Volkswagen’s subtle attempt to convince prospective shoppers to procreate or Aston Martin’s decision to use Tom Brady as its spokesmodel, we’ve got something to say.

Kia recently finished a TV ad, intended to debut during Super Bowl LII, where Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler hops into Stinger GT and literally turns back time. The spot begins with Tyler donning a racing suit in a trailer that includes a photo of himself (for some reason) before walking out to an abandoned oval track. Waiting for him is aged Formula One champion Emerson Fittipaldi and two Kia Stinger GTs.

While the inclusion of Fittipaldi is a fun treat, it’s also a strange one. As recognizable as Tyler is, even as a leathery old man with beautiful hair, only serious motorsport fans would be able to identify a racing driver whose heyday was in the 1970s.

Unfortunately, this is where Fittipaldi exits. The ad makes it appear as if the two men are going to do battle on the oval, but Tyler ultimately climbs into the driver’s seat to throw the car in reverse. We then follow him as he screams around the track backward at impossible speeds while the clock in the trailer spins in reverse. Suddenly, he stops and steps out to a horde of screaming fans dressed in vintage clothing.

In actuality, Tyler doesn’t step out of the Kia. What we see is a computer-generated version of the rocker looking several decades younger. While not quite so abominable as Star Wars’ CGI versions of Peter Cushing or Carrie Fisher, the computerized rockstar still holds a place in the uncanny valley — albeit on the more tolerable slope.

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Lightspeed Lightspeed on Feb 03, 2018

    Wow, that was just the worst. Now I think the Stinger is like the red Corvette middle-aged accountants bought to relive their youth. And, it's just plain depressing. When you think of the money and logistics involved, you wonder how a room full of likely very talented people could be so far off he mark. Mind you, I've been in meetings where one of the largest PR/Marketing firms in the world brought in utter crap and all the trained seals clapped their flippers and said it boffo!

  • Bd2 Bd2 on Feb 04, 2018

    Mediocre concept followed by not much better execution. Also, the casting of Steven Tyler was a mistake.

  • V16 2025 VW GLI...or 2025 Honda Civic SI? Same target audience, similar price points. Both are rays of sun in the gray world of SUV'S.
  • FreedMike Said this before and I'll say it again: I'm not that exercised about this whole "pay for a subscription" thing, as long as the deal's reasonable. And here's how you make it reasonable: offer it a monthly charge. Let's say that adaptive headlights are a $500 option on this vehicle, and the subscription is $15 a month, or $540 over a three year lease. So you try the feature for a month, and if you like it, you keep it; if you don't, then you discontinue it, like a Netflix subscription. In any case, you didn't get charged $500 up front the feature. That's not a bad deal.In my case, let's say VW offers an over the air chip reflash that gives me another 25 hp. The total price of the upgrade is $1,000 (which is what a reflash would cost you in the aftermarket). If they offered me a one time monthly subscription for $50 to try it out, I'd take it. In other words, maybe the news isn't all bad.
  • 2ACL A good car, but - at least in this configuration -not one that should command a premium. Its qualities just aren't as enduring as those of Honda's contemporary sports cars. For better or worse, this is a formula they remain able to replicate.
  • Jalop1991 I just read that Tesla's profits are WAY down "as the electric vehicle company has faced both more EV competition from established automakers and a slowing of overall EV sales growth." This Cadillac wouldn't help Tesla at all, but the slowing market of EV sales overall means this should be a halo/boutique car. Regardless, yes, they should make it.
  • FreedMike It's just a damn shame that Alfa never conquered its' quality demons in time for the Giulia and Stelvio to hit the market - these are loaded with personality, and we need more product like that.