March 3, 2024

Volkswagen of America is marking 75 years in the U.S. with a Super Bowl ad featuring Herbie the Love Bug and a swirl of other pop-culture highlights.

The 60-second commercial (watch an extended 2-minute version above) will air during the third quarter of Sunday’s game on CBS and also on the Spanish-language telecast on Univision. Paramount is charging as much as $7 million for 30 seconds of commercial time on the game, so it’s a sizable investment by the automaker.

Set to Neal Diamond’s 1971 hit “I Am… I Said,” the spot is titled “An American Love Story.” It is directed by Lance Acord, who also directed Volkswagen’s 2011 commercial “The Force,” a popular spot featuring a boy in a Darth Vader helmet. That piece of Star Wars iconography is one of many pop-culture references that fly by as the commercial rolls from the German brand’s arrival on U.S. shores in 1949 to the rounded-rectangle VW Bus carrying surfers and hippies in the 1960s and ’70s to the electric-vehicle present day.

As black-and-white footage segues to color, scenes from Disney’s Herbie the Love Bug franchise make a notable appearance, though the 2005 Lindsay Lohan installment appears to be MIA. A clip from The Simpsons features Bart and Lisa playing “Punch Buggy,” a back-seat game centered on spotting the VW Type 1 (which from inception became known as the Beetle or the Bug) on the road.

In advance of the game, the longer cut of the ad is debuting Friday at a media preview for this year’s Chicago Auto Show. It will also be featured on a mobile app for current VW owners. After the game, the 60-second version will be online and on social media to anchor further 75-year anniversary promotion.

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