GM, Chrysler buy pricey Super Bowl ads as outlook climbs

Read More at: DetroitNews

Automakers seeking to score big points with potential customers will dominate advertising at the 2011 Super Bowl, with more than 15 auto commercials scheduled to air during the game.

At least eight automakers have bought airtime. Among them: General Motors Co. is back in the game; Hyundai Motor Co, will run more ads; and Mercedes-Benz will air its first-ever Super Bowl ad.

The annual football fest is shaping up as a major showdown for automakers angling to pile on exposure for new cars and trucks in a brightening sales climate, analysts say.

It’s yet another indicator of the auto industry’s gradual recovery, with companies feeling flush enough to commit millions of dollars for even a single 30-second slot.

In addition to its Super Bowl commitment, GM announced this week that it has signed a deal to be the only domestic automaker advertising on NBC network and cable television during the 2012 Olympics in London. Chevrolet and Cadillac will have “a major advertising presence” during the games, from July 27 to Aug. 12, 2012, it said.

During the recession, many auto companies slashed their advertising budgets to shore up dwindling bottom lines.

According to WPP’s Kantar Media, a New York-based media research firm, auto companies accounted for about 51/2 minutes of Super Bowl ad time in 2010, up from 3 minutes in 2009.

Ford Motor Co. will not advertise during the game, but it will be the only auto company advertising during the final half-hour of the pre-kick program, said Susan Venen-Bock, media manager for Ford and Lincoln.

The Dearborn-based automaker will promote the new Ford Explorer, which this week was named truck of the year at the North American International Auto Show, and the F-150 pickup, which is adding a new engine lineup.

Luxury brands such as Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, will be Super Bowl players, too.

BMW will talk up a major overhaul to its U.S. lineup in its first Super Bowl ad in a decade. Audi will return for its fourth consecutive year, with a 60-second ad. Mercedes will debut its first Super Bowl commercial ever, to mark its 125-year anniversary and the 2011 arrival of four new models, said Donna Boland, Mercedes’ manager of corporate communications.

“With all that’s going on, we wanted to kick off the year in a big way,” Boland said. “And it doesn’t get any bigger than the Super Bowl.”

Hyundai will increase its airtime from two to three 30-second spots at February’s game, with a strong emphasis on its all-new Elantra. Kia will return for a second year, pushing its 2011 Optima; Volkswagen AG is making a comeback after a nine-year hiatus with two 30-second commercials.

Japanese automakers Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. aren’t suiting up for the game.