Kia’s Super Bowl Ad Featuring Steven Tyler is a Bit of a Bizarre Bummer

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.

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