$14.5 Million Worth Of Super Bowl Ads For Failed Cars

A Super Bowl ad is so expensive that automakers typically only use them to promote cars they think will be a success. Here are a few ads for cars that failed spectacularly at getting people into dealerships.

With the help of the very extensive YouTube Super Bowl Ad collection, EverySuperBowlAd, I dug through three decades worth of car ads and dug up some interesting finds from games past. And in many of these instances, it begged the question: "They spent how much trying to sell that?"

For reference, 30 seconds of ad time is going for $4 million this year.

1990 Pontiac Trans Sport; Cost of a 30-second ad: $700,000

"It's the Pontiac of minivans!" Well, yes it is, and this one's also white! They sold a lot of Dustbusters, but not enough to make a dent in Chrysler's minivan stranglehold. They are a reminder of what "the future" looked like 25 years ago.

Super Bowl XXIV (49ers beat Broncos, 55-10)

1995 Honda del Sol; 30-second ad: $1.15 million

Honda made a del Sol commercial? Well they showed on in 1995 in a year they also showed an ad for the first Odyssey at the Super Bowl, another niche product that never took off. At least our memories of the del Sol live on in the new Porsche 911 Targa. Did you notice Claire Forlani in the passenger seat?

Super Bowl XXIX (49ers beat Chargers, 49-26)

1999 Oldsmobiles; 30-second ad: $1.6 million

Poor Oldsmobile. In 1999, they pitched one big ad during the Super Bowl to show every single model they had in the arsenal. Some of them were good-looking, too. It's a shame it didn't work out.

Side note: the '90s-ness of this ad is almost overwhelming.

Super Bowl XXXIII (Broncos beat Falcons, 34-19)

2003 Chrysler Crossfire; 30-second ad: $2.1 million

We're in familiar territory now. A lot of people remember Celine Dion singing for some cars in black-and-white commercials in the early 2000s. Fewer people remember it was for the Chrysler Crossfire, among other cars. I'm sure what she was really screaming about while driving the Crossfire, though, was in regards to finding the power from that base V6.

Super Bowl XXXVII (Buccaneers beat Raiders, 48-21)

2004 Cadillac SRX and XLR; 30-second ad: $2.2 million

A 2-for-1 failure. The Cadillac SRX and XLR were certainly stunning cars from a company that just five years before was flaunting the Catera like it was youthful. The problem with the XLR, though, was that it was a Corvette with a folding roof that went for a hideous price. The problem with the SRX was that it didn't look like an SUV.

Only one of those is really a problem.

Super Bowl XXXVIII (Patriots beat Panthers, 32-29)

2004 Mitsubishi Galant; 30-second ad: $2.2 million

The internet was a big thing in 2004, remember? At least Mitsubishi thought it was so freakin' cool. They bought a 30-second spot for the new Galant to show how good it was compared to a Toyota Camry – but you had to watch the end of the ad by going to a website.

If you were still using dial-up in 2004, though, you probably never found what happened next.

Super Bowl XXXVIII (Patriots beat Panthers, 32-29)

2005 Honda Ridgeline; 30-second ad: $2.4 million

There were more than a couple dirty words in this ad that likely turned off most truck-driving football fans: "unitized frame" and (of course) "Honda." You know you can still buy a new one, right?

Super Bowl XXXIX (Patriots beat Eagles, 24-21)

1987 Isuzu P'up; 30-second ad: $600,000

Isuzu was never the same without Joe. And 3.9% is the good APR rate? The '80s must have been awful.

Super Bowl XXI (Giants beat Broncos, 39-20)

Advertising figures via Sporting Charts