BMW i3 Super Bowl Ad Takes You Back to When The Internet Was New

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Once upon a time, there was no internet. No one updated their Facebook statuses with pictures of snow-covered patio furniture during a blizzard. No one tweeted. And when we sent mail it required a stamp and a mailman to get to its final destination. The internet was once a weird, strange place, kind of like the BMW i3.

Those of you who are of a certain age will relate far too much to this Super Bowl ad that BMW made for the i3. It features a clip with Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel from back in 1994 when the two hosted the Today Show.

The co-hosts are locked in a debate over what the heck email is and what exactly does the “@” sign mean, anyway? It’s sort of cute and charming and reminds us that the things we see as commonplace today were once very weird.

Cut to today, and the pair is now out for a drive in the new BMW i3. Neither one of them fully gets what it’s all about and they drive along arguing about how it was built and if it’s even a real car.

Both Katie and Bryant are flummoxed by how BMW uses wind, or a fan, or a turbine, or something fancy like that to build the i3. They end up falling right back into the pattern from that 21-year-old internet conversation. Someday their electric car conversation may look just as silly as their internet conversation.

BMW believes the ad is a fun way to show people just what they’ve been up to with their electric vehicles while acknowledging that electric cars are still hard for many people to fully understand. They say electric vehicles are at the same point that the internet was back in the early ’90s, but that eventually they’ll be as commonplace as the internet.

It’s a big move for BMW who hasn’t run an ad during the Super Bowl in four years. They’re one of only six automakers who chose to run and ad this year, down from 11 back in 2014.

Part of the reason is that the timing might not work for every company, but it might also be that a Super Bowl spot doesn’t come cheap with a 30-second ad costing a whopping $4.5 million. BMW thinks it’s worth the price with about a third of the US population tuning in to watch the game.

Nicole Wakelin

Nicole Wakelin

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