Super Bowl commercials draw at least 7 automakers
DETROIT - Imagine spending about $8 million in 60 seconds.
That’s what at least seven automakers are preparing to do next Sunday during Super Bowl XLVII, a sign that automotive marketing budgets have rebounded as competition for sales heats up.
Conspicuously absent from the pre-game hype is Chrysler.
For the third year in a row, the Auburn Hills, Mich., automaker is planning a long commercial that it hopes will be impactful, but the company hasn’t said how long the ad will be or what car or truck it will highlight.
"I cannot tell you anything," Olivier Francois said Jan. 15. "We have a bunch of options on the table . . . and I need to share them with my boss."
"We have come to expect big things from Chrysler’s Super Bowl ads," said Michele Krebs, senior analyst for Edmunds.com.
Francois hinted that Chrysler may decide to run a 30-second ad for Fiat like it did last year in addition to a longer commercial for the company or another Chrysler brand.
"We bought air time," Francois said. "Now we need to fill it."
No other automaker advertising in the Super Bowl is following Chrysler’s all-or-nothing gamble.
Audi released three commercials Friday with alternative endings and asked people to vote on their favorite one.
By Friday afternoon, Upton’s video had been viewed 4.2 million times on YouTube and has been the subject of a number of mainstream media stories debating whether or not it objectifies women.
"There was a time when you held everything for the Super Bowl, but now you have these social media channels that help you leverage your investment," said Donna Boland, manager of corporate communications for Mercedes-Benz.
In 2011, two million people viewed a version of Audi’s commercial before the game. In 2012, that number doubled to four million, Angelo said.
"Getting in front of consumers in advance when there is a high level of interest around the Super Bowl . . . is ultimately the way to be a part of the larger conversation," Angelo said.
Ford started shooting the Lincoln commercial it plans to air during this year’s Super Bowl on Jan. 8.
Lincoln is working with late-night TV talk-show host Jimmy Fallon, who solicited tweets about crazy road trips for the commercial.
Fallon received more than 6,000 tweets during three days the first week in December.
With millions of dollars on the table, and many automotive companies competing for attention, most automakers have launched social-media campaigns to build buzz for their commercials.
The success of those campaigns before kickoff is becoming increasingly important, said Tim O’Day, executive director of the Yaffe Center for Persuasive Communication at the University of Michigan. However, companies must strike a careful balance between revealing too much and generating interest.
The challenge for automakers in the Super Bowl to create memorable commercials is heightened by the number of companies and car ads, said John Swallen, chief of research for Kantar Media.
In 2012, seven of the 33 advertisers were automotive manufacturers - the most of any industry, Swallen said. Those companies paid about $94.5 million on 16 commercials for 12 brands.
This year, at least seven companies representing eight brands are planning to advertise in the game.
"That’s a lot of messages competing for attention in (a) three-hour game," Swallen said.
But this year, General Motors - the third-largest spender in the Super Bowl the last 10 years - will be sitting on the sidelines.
"Maybe they just didn’t plan for it far enough in advance," Krebs said. "To me, it seems like a missed opportunity."