By on February 1, 2018

kia stinger super bowl ad

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.


Here’s the really odd part, though. As the Stinger speeds away, the commercial invites the viewer to “Feel Something Again.” In addition to this feeling off the mark, as we presumed Kia’s strategy was to market the car toward younger buyers seeking a thrilling sports sedan, it’s also kind of a sad statement. Even the corporate release describing the ad seems geared toward the under-40 crowd.

“The Stinger is the dream car driving enthusiasts have been longing for with its head-turning design, premium amenities and heart-pounding power at an incredibly value-packed price,” Kia’s vice president of marketing communications, Saad Chehab, said in a statement. “As one of the youngest mainstream car companies in the U.S., our youth — and the fearlessness that comes with it — is Kia’s strength, and the youthful mindset we share with Steven Tyler and Emerson Fittipaldi is on full display in our Super Bowl ad.”

That said, the spot still wins on general appeal. People will like seeing Tyler, who is definitely still relevant. Our only real gripe is that he didn’t perform so well in Top Gear’s celebrity hot lap way back in 2013. But he appears to be an genuine enthusiast, having owned numerous performance cars, including a Hennessey Venom GT Spyder. Besides, those who doubt his credentials always have Fittipaldi’s cameo to fall back upon.

It’s just that there is something so odd and woebegone about the ad’s tagline, as if your life has become so empty that you’ll need something like this to cling to your glory days. We’d like to have seen something a little more spunky and, perhaps, subtle coming from the 60-second spot by David & Goliath Productions.

Kia says the ad will air during the third quarter of the big game. We’re curious as to what the public will think of the commercial, especially that “Feel Something Again” closer.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

65 Comments on “Dream On: Kia’s Steven Tyler Super Bowl Ad Is a Bizarre Bummer...”

  • avatar

    The top picture looks like Richard “The Night Stalker” Ramirez.

  • avatar

    I’m skipping the game this year. Hate New England, very little interest in American football. And the ads are rarely worth watching anymore.

    • 0 avatar


      I dislike both teams.

      Kneeling during the national anthem = Giving you the middle finger.


      F Them. My Sundays are so free now.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m giving them one more year, then the Raiders move to Vegas. Wish the Texans well, but otherwise I’m losing interest.

    • 0 avatar

      The games are traditionally snoozers anyway, and the only reason to watch was for the commercials. There will be websites that will compile all the ads in one handy place, so why watch? I’m inviting some friends over for dinner, and afterward, we’ll discuss why the later novels of Thackeray failed to live up to the promise of his earlier works.

  • avatar

    People who are youthful don’t need to cling to it yet. And they don’t need to see grizzly old people who were youthful in 1975 turned back into young people.

    This is the wrong approach for a young customer. Like adding some rap lyrics to a Doobie Brothers song.

    Speaking of which, try-hard MBA marketing people should listen to What A Fool Believes, and think on the lyrics.

    • 0 avatar

      My first concert was the Doobie Brothers back in 1975, before Michael McDonald’s influence destroyed them. Man, they were a tight band back then.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah. If you’re young, you don’t need a car that makes an old guy feel young. Because you’re already young. Are these the same guys that came up with the “not your father’s Oldsmobile” campaign?

    • 0 avatar

      Surely, this ad is targeting an older audience, at least my age or older, as we feel the ravages of age and wish we had appreciated life and youth when we were younger.

      Seems like an odd market for Kia, but this ad certainly wouldn’t appeal to a kid (anyone under ~35) at all.

    • 0 avatar

      I just took the ad as the brainchild of someone who saw the Charlie Sheen/Martin Sheen VISA commercial way back then. In that ad, Charlie Sheen was waiting so long, Martin Sheen was used to show him aged in the wait.

      This ad looks like it began as taking the inspiration from that ad, in a reverse twist. The rest of it, including the tagline, were add-ons shoehorned in to make it work.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    The tagline “Feel Something Again” flashed onscreen after watching an aged rocker desperately try to reverse time in a bright red sport sedan…that really is a depressing ad.

    “You’re old. You’re tired. Your best days are LONG gone and those young girls sure as hell aren’t lusting after you anymore. Maybe this will help you feel something again…Stinger. By Kia.”

    I don’t see this as aimed towards young enthusiasts so much as trying to redirect the leisure Corvette demographic away from the Chevy dealership.

    Perhaps the oddest part, though, was the quick flash of him looking into the backup camera display while peeling out to turn back time. You’re an old dog who can still bite, but you’re practical and safe as well.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Weird ad.

    I’d prefer seeing the hamsters bust their friend out of an animal testing lab using the Stinger as a getaway car.

  • avatar

    “Powered by youth”

    Where are the oars?

  • avatar

    By going backward with a V6 turbo, baby boomers i.e. ones with the coin, can look and feel young again…dream on.

    • 0 avatar

      There’s a lot more younger people with a lot more dough than there ever was. They should have targeted this ad at the “tuner” crowd that goes out and buys a new car and immediately starts to mod the crap out of it.

  • avatar

    It’ll air during the 3rd quarter of the game, which means around midnight.

  • avatar

    Does anyone even watch football anymore?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Evidently far fewer than ever, and the NFL doesn’t know what to do about it.

      As a lifelong Pittsburgh area resident, I’ve become jaded to all sports. The scandals, the cheating, the money, and the politics surrounding sports have made me indifferent to any team’s performance.

      I’ll give the Steelers credit for one thing: They’re 1 of only 6 NFL teams that does not have cheerleaders.

      • 0 avatar

        You’re giving them credit for that?

        (Then again, if my QB was Big Ben, given his record with the ladies, I wouldn’t knowingly let any attractive, scantily clad woman within 75 feet of him unless she had a black belt in judo.)

  • avatar

    Everybody wants to market to a younger audience, but it’s the old guys who have the money.

    Perhaps the aforementioned goals are just marketing fluff, and this is the acknowledgment of the real demographic.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX


      The only merit of this ad is to notify the audience that a sporty Kia exists, and it has a nice exhaust growl.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s easier to get an old man to buy an young man’s car than to get a young man to buy an old man’s car.

        Which is why this ad is FAIL on mainly levels.

    • 0 avatar

      Totally agree. Kia may say this ad is aimed at “their?” young followers, but in reality this car, perfectly matched with this ad, is only targeting boomers with money who want to turn back time and get some adrenaline going again.

      Sad as this may be to some, its reality to most of the classic car/performance age group who have money and want to cruise with some power under the hood. It might be the perfect car for them. Certainly the only new car in a while.

  • avatar

    I remember Led Zepplin trying to sell me a Cadillac. Didn’t work and I lost some respect for them. Rock and roll is not about selling out. That’s disco.

  • avatar

    While Mainstream Rock has receded to the backwaters of Pop Culture where Jazz and Classical have long resided…

    CLASSIC Rock not only remains resilient, but has picked up fans not yet born when Kurt Cobain died, or even when the Twin Towers fell, and they see no dichotomy with Aerosmith, Kendrick Lamar and Luke Bryan on their playlists.

    Therefore I can understand using Steven Tyler.

    But the editing of “Dream On” is just bad, particularly at the end when the vocals are finally used.

    And I’m sure the idea of putting Tyler in a Kia, running around the track backwards to imply turning back time, and getting out 40 years younger to meet his adoring fans, could’ve been put to good use somehow.

    But I don’t think it works with “Feel Something Again” to a target audience of Millennials for whom “Dream On” is a cool tune they saw on YouTube or heard on the radio. Better to have used Chamillionaire, Black-Eyed Peas or early Gaga.

    Unless they’re actually targeting Boomers/Gen X’ers, thinking this is how they sell a young persons’ car to old people…

  • avatar

    I just watched the ad on Kia’s site. I supposed I’m the target market for the Stinger (midish-40s).

    The best part of the add was the 5 seconds of Emerson.

  • avatar

    they’re trying to appeal to nostalgia like audi’s ad. the muted orange colors, the font, the name stinger is meant to evoke rock and roll. it’s saying the modern current world is unfeeling and unemotional. old folks would love this and sympathize with it.

    kia wants old people to think steven tyler and these old guys are aspirational to young kids. retro is in style again. sambas and nike shoes sell better with retro style for instance and other fashion trends are evident of this.

    kia doesn’t have history but history is full of revolutionary changes. i think that ad tries to remind us of that. that kia might be foreign but looking back at your younger self, doesn’t it seem like you’re seeing a different person? maybe that feeling of foreignness is proof you are older. maybe you need to feel something again

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Although I’m a Kia partisan, the car in this ad costs ~$52k and looks too much like the Cadenza and Optima which preceded it.

    Sure, it’s rear drive or AWD with a hot V6, but that money could be better spent elsewhere. Or you could spend $36k on the plebian 2.0L Stinger.

    In either case, the depreciation hit will be the real stinger.

  • avatar

    Good Lord that was unappealing.

    Just do this, but with the Stinger:

  • avatar

    I just got back from the local “auto show” which is just a chance for dealers to hawk their new cars.

    The Kia Stinger was there – pretty nice, but the interior was about good as the new Honda Accord. The 3.3L V6 would be nice but the 51k Stinger price tag – ouch. It’s a lot of money for the brand. I would think your average lux car buyer is going to look at the German Big 3. But hey, we’ll see how the Stinger plays out; there’s nothing wrong with more choices.

    byw my 75yo dad needed some help getting out of the driver’s seat. He’s more of a CUV buyer these days.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah I just saw it at the DC auto show. The one on the turntable was a loaded V6 turbo. I liked it but it was $52K. The model you could sit in was $40K but then I looked and it only had the turbo 4 cylinder and even the hatch was manual, not powered. For $40K? Um no

    • 0 avatar

      $51K That’s very close to Lexus GS territory. The GS is for a different market I think, but has a far better interior, and likely better dealer experience.

  • avatar

    Looked at a Stinger recently. Family didn’t like the interior/layout/seating that much. Told me they were offering $5-7k in lease cash for a GT/GT1/GT2. So $45k for a GT2 AWD, roughly.

    Family liked the Q50 better to sit in.

  • avatar

    Stinger is automatic only. I drive cars with 3 pedals. It is irrelevant to me.

    And the NFL can kiss my manual transmission driving, veteran, anthem standing a–. It is also irrelevant to me.

    So overall a non-issue really, at least in my living room, where the game won’t be on.

  • avatar

    My favorite bumper sticker comes from the slowpoke hyper-miler who clogs my (otherwise) easy 10 minute commute: “Some hate Trump. some hate Clinton. Everyone hates Tom Brady.” May th best steroids win.

  • avatar

    The ad is a bag of mixed messages. But, maybe that’s appropriate because so is the car. Its sporty, but no manual trans. Its “value priced”, but is too expensive for what you get.

    They might as well have used Cher with “If I could turn back time”. It would’ve been just as irrelevant to its target audience, but might have made slightly more sense.

  • avatar

    Wow there are a lot of crying babies in the comments.

  • avatar

    I think the most important takeaway is that, until now, we could only ASSUME Steven Tyler was dead inside. And now we know for sure. Thanks, Kia!

  • avatar

    I am not a football fan.
    I do not like the NFL because of its racist tendencies.
    I am only interested in superbowl commercials, not the game itself.
    I never liked Aerosmith.
    I like manual transmission in my sports car.
    I do not like KIA brand.

    But I like Stinger for some reason. Go figure.

  • avatar

    I have finished my first cup of coffee of the day. I am Feeling Something Again.

  • avatar
    Matt Foley

    Pretty bold tagline in the #metoo era…

  • avatar

    This is a textbook example of how to make your car uncool.

  • avatar
    Panther Platform

    First four Aerosmith albums were superb although Toys in the Attic sowed the seeds of commercial destruction. Get Your Wings is the quintessential Aerosmith album and Rocks was the hard rocking antitode to Toys in the Attic. Draw the Line was mediocre and anything after that was total garbage

  • avatar

    Meh. Reminds me of the Audi commercial from last SuperBowl with the girl and her dad. That was lame too.

  • avatar

    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!

  • avatar

    Mediocre concept followed by not much better execution.

    Also, the casting of Steven Tyler was a mistake.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • fourthreezee: Word
  • fourthreezee: This. Until there is some next-level battery chemistry breakthrough (like LIon was) these electric...
  • Scoutdude: Yes there are free chargers, several in my general area. Unsurprisingly their chargers have some of the...
  • dal20402: The costs will be covered the same way as any other marketing effort.
  • dal20402: I’m planning to buy some kind of stickshift toy, probably around mid- to late 2023. New cars in this...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber