Netflix Wants to Make Electric Cars Its Next Big Stars

Working with General Motors, Netflix will put EVs into as many of its movies and shows as it can. There's a Super Bowl ad to prove it.

Joan E. Solsman Former Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
Expertise Streaming video, film, television and music; virtual, augmented and mixed reality; deep fakes and synthetic media; content moderation and misinformation online Credentials
  • Three Folio Eddie award wins: 2018 science & technology writing (Cartoon bunnies are hacking your brain), 2021 analysis (Deepfakes' election threat isn't what you'd think) and 2022 culture article (Apple's CODA Takes You Into an Inner World of Sign)
Joan E. Solsman
2 min read
A man and woman in Regency-era costume walk arm-in-arm in front of a film camera rig, with a sleek black car slowly driving behind them

Will Ferrell strolls a Bridgerton-inspired set -- with a Cadillac Lyriq in slow pursuit -- in Netflix and GM's upcoming Super Bowl commercial.


Netflix and General Motors are joining forces in the hope of catapulting a new star onto screens big and small: the electric vehicle. 

Netflix has committed to getting EVs into every Netflix-managed TV and film production, both behind the camera and often in front of it. And Netflix and GM will launch a marketing campaign about EVs with a Super Bowl commercial later this month, a spot they're teasing with two 15-second preview ads released Thursday. 

To goal of both efforts, they said, is to accelerate the world's transition from fossil-fuel vehicles to electric ones.

"The more that we see EVs show up in his type of binge-worthy content, the faster everyone gets used to the change," GM Global Chief Marketing Officer Deborah Wahl said Wednesday in a briefing. 

Actor Will Ferrell stars in the Super Bowl-bound campaign, showing him hopping between Netflix shows and movies like Squid Game, Queer Eye and Love is Blind -- even in period productions like Stranger Things and Bridgerton -- all in scenarios that incorporate GM electric vehicles in some way. 

But in actual productions, Netflix won't shoehorn EVs into genres where they wouldn't make sense, like fantasy, period pieces or animation. Netflix actually began work on this EVs-on-screen initiative last year, and the company works with its creators in three steps: initial briefings about EVs and the initiative; a creative integration process with directors, showrunners and the like to determine how EVs fit the story; and assistance in identifying and sourcing the right vehicles. 

But Netflix said that this isn't product placement.

"GM's not paying to put their vehicles on Netflix shows," Netflix Chief Marketing Officer Marian Lee said. She added that EVs from other automakers will be showing up in Netflix productions too, but the close ties between Netflix and GM fostered by this campaign means GM vehicles will be featured often. 

Wahl, GM's head of marketing, also noted that GM is "looking forward" to working with Netflix's team as they "build up their advertising business." Netflix launched a cheaper tier with advertising in November, bringing commercials to the service for the first time. She specified any ad buys with Netflix are a separate effort. 

While Netflix and GM's marketing campaign may not go on forever, the executives said their efforts to get EVs on screen has no end date. 

"I hope there won't ever be an end," Wahl said. And if the world transitions quickly to EVs as the norm, she added, there won't need to be. 

Watch this: Why Streaming Is Getting More Expensive