Automakers seek big score in Super Bowl

More than a half-dozen automakers are expected to showcase their newest vehicles come February in Super Bowl ads fetching an estimated $4 million per 30 seconds, with several opting for longer story-telling ads.

Car companies including General Motors Co., Hyundai Motor America, Kia Motors America, Volkswagen of America Inc., Toyota Motor Corp., Audi of America and Jaguar have announced plans to run commercials during Super Bowl XLVIII.

GM announced in August that it would return to the Super Bowl after sitting on the sidelines during 2013’s big game. The company said it wanted to return to the biggest stage and have a presence among the biggest brands, an about face after its previous marketing chief said Super Bowl ad time was too expensive.

Super Bowl ads often are hyped in advance, helping generate buzz for companies and their products, and are viewed around the world. That can help build loyalty and brand recognition. About 108 million people watched the 2013 game.

“We’ve bought 120 seconds. We bought two 60-second spots,” Tim Mahoney, GM’s chief marketing officer for Global Chevrolet, said in a recent interview. “We may parse them, but we’re in for a couple.”

Kia, Toyota, Volkswagen and Audi also are expected to run one-minute ads.

Ford Motor Co. hinted it has something in the works for the Super Bowl, which will be played outdoors at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., on Feb. 2.

“We have very exciting plans for that period of time,” Jim Farley, Ford’s executive vice president of global marketing, sales and service and Lincoln told The Detroit News. “We definitely will have a strategy for the Super Bowl.”

Ford is expected to reveal an all-new F-150 pickup this month at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit and will market a 2015 Mustang in the spring. Lincoln, which aired spots during the 2013 game, has no plans to advertise in the 2014 game, Lincoln spokesman Stephane Cesareo said.

Chrysler Group LLC, known for its long and unique Super Bowl ads, would not confirm if it has any commercials planned for the Super Bowl. But it is widely expected to return after three years of buzz-creating bowl ads.

For the 2011 Super Bowl, Chrysler ran a highly popular two-minute “Imported from Detroit” ad featuring rapper Eminem and the Chrysler 200. For the 2012 contest, Chrysler returned with another two-minute pep talk called “It’s Halftime in America,” featuring Clint Eastwood. In last year’s Super Bowl, the Auburn Hills automaker ran two two-minute ads, one featuring its Ram Trucks and farmers. The other, called “Whole Again,” saluted U.S. troops and featured Jeep.

“These ads have all generated an amazing amount of buzz for Chrysler,” University of Detroit Mercy marketing professor Mike Bernacchi wrote in a 2013 Super Bowl report.

GM’s Mahoney wouldn’t divulge the automaker’s specific plans for its ads, or what Chevrolet vehicles the ads will feature, but Mahoney said it is important to be back in the game.

“It’s not just a North American phenomenon. With the importance of social media and things like YouTube, these really become global ads,” he said. “They’re viewed around the world.”

Chevrolet is debuting 12 cars and trucks between mid-2013 and the end of 2014, including 2015 heavy-duty Chevrolet Silverado and Chevrolet Colorado pickups.

Automakers ran 14 ads or 20 percent of the commercials during the 2013 Super Bowl, up from four ads in the 2010 game, according to Bernacchi citing USA Today Ad Meter data. Those ads cost automakers an estimated $32 million.

Long commercials, at least 60 seconds in length, are becoming more popular. They represented half of the 14 auto ads during the 2013 game, Bernacchi said. The percentage of long ads averaged 16 percent from the 2007 through 2011 Super Bowls, while long ads in the 2012 game represented 27 percent of ads and last year, 30 percent, according to Bernacchi.

“There is little question that the recovery of the U.S. economy and Chrysler’s success are responsible for the growth of the long ad,” he said. “There is little question that the autos are the primary reason for the amazing growth of the long ad in the Super Bowl.”

Jaguar will air a spot during the Super Bowl for the first time, featuring its new F-Type Coupe under a theme of “British Villains” in a 30-second ad.

Toyota, which aired an ad in the 2013 game, will air a 60-second 2014 Super Bowl commercial highlighting its redesigned 2014 Highlander, Toyota spokesman Curt McAllister said.

Kia this month said it will showcase its K900 luxury sedan in a 60-second spot. Hyundai, advertising in its seventh consecutive Super Bowl, will show two, 30-second ads that will focus on its new Genesis sedan in “Dad’s Sixth Sense.” “Nice,” a comedic spot, will focus on its compact Elantra.

Volkswagen will air a commercial for the fifth consecutive year. The German brand, whose successful 2011 Super Bowl ad “The Force” has been viewed more than 58 million times, plans to show a 60-second spot. Audi will air a 60-second commercial for its 2015 A3, marking its seventh straight year advertising in the Super Bowl.

Mercedes-Benz USA advertised during the 2013 Super Bowl. A spokesman said the automaker has no plans to advertise in the 2014 game.

Ad time for the 2014 Super Bowl sold out about a month earlier this year than the previous Super Bowl, with slots selling for more than $4 million for 30 seconds, according to Ad Age.

GM also will air Chevrolet and Cadillac ads during the the 2014 Winter Olympics in February on NBC.

From The Detroit News: