GM spikes its ads for Super Bowl 2013

General Motors Co., one of the biggest spenders in Super Bowl advertising, will not plug its cars and trucks during next year’s game.

GM’s announcement Friday comes on the heels of its decision earlier this week to end paid advertising on Facebook — although the automaker will keep its Facebook “fan” pages.

The two advertising bombshells signal a major change in advertising strategy for GM. The automaker has tapped one agency, Carat, part of Aegis Media, to handle its advertising buying efforts, trimming back from a panoply of some 50 media agencies.

“We understand the reach the Super Bowl provides, but with the significant increase in price, we simply can’t justify the expense,” Joel Ewanick, GM’s global chief marketing officer, said in a statement.

During Super Bowl 2012, GM ran four spots during the game, including a 60-second ad featuring the Chevy Silverado. Shorter ads featured a bungee-jumping Chevrolet Sonic, a graduate who mistakenly believes he’s getting a Camaro, and another promoting Cadillac’s new ATS.

GM declined to comment on how much it spent on those Super Bowl ads, but University of Detroit Mercy marketing professor Mike Bernacchi said the average 30-second spot cost about $3.5 million in 2012 and likely will reach $3.75 million to $4 million next year.

Bernacchi called the move by GM unusual, given its large customary ad presence in the game.

GM was the third largest Super Bowl advertiser from 2002 to 2011, spending $82.8 million, and ranking behind Anheuser-Busch InBev and PepsiCo Inc., according to Kantar Media. GM did not advertise for two years during the economic downturn, but returned to the game in 2011. The average cost of a Super Bowl spot in 2011 was $3.1 million, according to the ad-monitoring company.

“It’s the best buy because of the number of eyeballs, but inevitably you have to ask how effective” it is, Bernacchi said.

GM said it made the decision as it reviewed its overall media spending, and the significant jump in the cost of ad time expected for next year’s Super Bowl on CBS, said GM spokesman Pat Morrissey.

The automaker’s advertising budget hasn’t changed, he said, but GM will allocate the money it would have spent on Super Bowl ads into other places.

“We will be an advertising sponsor with NBC during the Olympics and that’ll be primarily Chevrolet and some Cadillac,” Morrissey said.

Bernacchi said the three-week Olympics allows companies to develop a campaign and a loyalty among viewers who will watch multiple days.

Some industry analysts questioned GM’s decision to walk away from the Super Bowl.

“It feels premature for GM to make such a big decision regarding Super Bowl, especially since GM will be launching a new line of full-size pickup trucks and full-size SUVs around Super Bowl time,” senior analyst Michelle Krebs in a statement Friday. “The Super Bowl audience is ideal for those vehicles and the timing is right.”

The 2012 Super Bowl was heavy on automakers’ ads, including spots from at least 11 companies.

Ford Motor Co. hasn’t advertised in the Super Bowl for the past few years, and has had a heavy presence in social media advertising; Chrysler Group LLC has aired poignant “image” ads the past two years, featuring rapper Eminem and Clint Eastwood.

In addition to restructuring its advertising efforts, GM this spring announced it had selected a newly formed company, Commonwealth, to handle global advertising for Chevrolet, its largest brand. The Carat and Commonwealth changes are expected to save GM about $2 billion over the next five years.

Todd Grantham, managing director at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in Detroit, one of Commonwealth’s partner companies, declined to comment on next year’s advertising plans for Chevy.

“Certainly this past year was effective for us,” Grantham said of the 2012 Super Bowl ads, which featured many Chevy spots.

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