In the Super Bowl advertising landscape of talking babies, pyrotechnics, bikini babes and cute dogs — especially dogs — expect to find more car commercials than ever this year.
Though some still are coy about their plans, it appears nine automakers are splurging on more than a third of the game’s ad time after the coin toss — marking a third year in which the automakers commanded the largest ad presence.
Given the giant live audience and hoopla, car companies can’t resist. “They don’t call it the Super Bowl for nothing. When it comes to audience size, engagement with the advertising, social media talk value, and driving shopping traffic,” says Steve Shannon, vice president of marketing for the Hyundai Motor America, “nothing else even comes close.”
JUDGE THE ADS: Sign up for the USA TODAY Ad Meter Panel
The Detroit 3 are poised to offer ads. So are Hyundai, Kia, Volkswagen, Audi, Toyota and Jaguar. Plus there will be car dealer chain CarMax and vehicle floor-mat maker WeatherTech.
But with 30-second ad slots going for up to $4 million this year, these companies aren’t just relying on their time in the game to get your attention. They are going all out to leverage even bigger results with social media.
The goal isn’t just to sell a car, but to create a stir. “Anyone who is just buying a Super Bowl ad is wasting their money,” says Ian Beavis, executive vice president of Nielsen Global Automotive. “The whole social content and conversation are becoming more important.”
PHOTOS: Previous Ad Meter winners
For many it starts with teaser ads — sometimes the whole ad — online days in advance, follows through to game day and then follows up with promotions to keep the conversation — and the theme — going. Some have social-media SWAT teams. To support its ad in which engineers get their “angel wings,” Volkswagen will have a staff of 10 sending out a torrent of social postings during the game.
For some automakers, a successful ad means a YouTube “moment” that goes viral. For others, the game ad is a chance to open a dialogue. “For us, it’s about telling a story,” says Angie Kozleski, a spokeswoman for Ford, which has the 90 seconds of ad time between the coin toss and the kickoff in which actor James Franco and comedian Rob Riggle promote the Fusion hyrbid.
Last year, Chrysler scored with a story, an two-minute ode to farmers narrated by the late Paul Harvey, to soft-sell Ram pickups. As in past years, Chrysler is staying mum about its plans until game time.
Others aren’t shy. Here are some automakers’ plans:
Audi. Mate a Doberman with a Chihuahua and you get a small, aggressive mutt with a giant head that underscores why some things are best not left to compromise. The ad, touting the new A3 entry sedan, has a weirdness that could make it memorable. It also features a cameo by Sarah McLachlan, known for her televised pleas to raise money for neglected animals.
CarMax. A single salesman’s slow clap for a car buyer’s choice becomes a community tribute. Since it’s the Super Bowl, the same ad also was done online entirely with dogs.
Chevrolet. There are two 60-second spots, but Chevy has revealed details of just one. In it a man uses his Silverado heavy-duty pickup to pick up a stud bull for his farm. He releases the bull into a group of cows and they eye each other. Key to the humor is the music: 1975′s You Sexy Thing, by Hot Chocolate, known mostly for its lyric, “I believe in miracles.” This ad shows that the brand “has a sense of confidence” but with “a smile,” says Chevy marketing chief Tim Mahoney.
Hyundai. In an ad for the new Genesis, Hyundai tugs the heartstrings with a theme of fathers protecting their sons. A second spot for the Elantra is a game of one-upsmanship with a chase and crashes.
Jaguar. Sir Ben Kingsley, who has played some memorable villains, is joined by bad-guy actors Tom Hiddleston and Mark Strong in Jaguar’s first Super Bowl ad, the start of a series of “British villains” ads. This one shows the new F-Type Coupe and Jaguar has mounted extensive pregame promotions. “Super Bowl week is a major milestone for the Jaguar brand,” says Jeff Curry, brand vice president of Jaguar North America.
Kia. In a play off the alternative-reality film The Matrix, actor Laurence Fishburne in his trench coat and sunglasses from the film, tell buyers they need to rethink luxury. Kia, once seen as a bargain brand, is promoting its first luxury car, the K900.
Toyota. A man in his Highlander SUV picks up Muppets stranded on their way to perform at a senior center. Hesitant at first, he joins in.
Courtesy of USA Today