On Feb 7, at least nine automotive brands enter the toughest, most scrutinized advertising cauldron of the year — Super Bowl 50.
Buick joins the game for the first time. While Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which has made history with some highly acclaimed Super Bowl ads, hasn’t revealed its plans.
The automotive industry will once again be among the dominant ad categories. Only the food and beverage industry and Hollywood have vied for more attention in recent years.
Automotive brands that plan to air at least one ad include: Acura, Audi, Buick, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mini and Toyota.
Companies are shelling out an estimated $5 million for a 30-second spot and the chance to influence the 115 million people expected to be watching.
The intense attention and scrutiny of viewers raises the stakes beyond simple cost, said Mike Bernacchi professor of marketing at the University of Detroit Mercy.
“A lot of people watch the game for ads. There is no other event that people watch the ads this closely.” he said. “These ads are rated. They are going to be talked about for several weeks or a month or longer, if you are lucky.”
Bernacchi argues automakers with a new product to launch almost can’t afford to skip the Super Bowl. What better time to go for ad glory than when sales of cars and trucks are at historic levels? Last year automakers sold more than 17.47 million cars and trucks in the U.S. — the most ever — and that number is expected to rise this year.
Detroit Three automakers appear to be following their general playbooks from the recent past. Last year, auto manufacturers aired 11 spots for nine brands spanning 11 minutes of ad time, according to Kantar Media.
General Motors has new products to promote this year. GM’s Buick brand is launching a number of vehicles, a strong incentive to push its premium brand.
“Buick has strong global sales momentum, and a fresh product portfolio coming in 2016 including the Cascada convertible, LaCrosse sedan and Envision crossover,” GM said in a statement.
Here is a closer look at what each automaker is planning:
Audi: Audi, the premium brand owned by Volkswagen, hasn’t revealed details. Audi must decide if it will address the diesel emissions scandal that has put Volkswagen in the spotlight.
Acura: After years of waiting, Acura is about to launch its NSX super car and the brand is wisely going to feature the much anticipated car in a spot during the first quarter.
The ad, which also will focus on Acura’s American roots, makes sense because the automaker is building a new plant to assemble the NSX in Marysville, Ohio, where it has made Hondas since the early 1980s. The NSX also builds on Acura’s renewed commitment to performance, That performance mantra is front and center in Acura’s “Point of View” brand campaign that debuted during the AFC playoffs on Sunday.
Buick: Buick enters the Superbowl advertising game this year for the first time. GM is planning a 30-second spot before halftime featuring the Cascada convertible and possibly other models.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles: A Super Bowl ad from FCA would mark the seventh consecutive year for the Auburn Hills automaker. FCA’s “Born of Fire” ad in 2011 and “Halftime in America” with Clint Eastwood in 2012 and “So God Made a Farmer” in 2013 are among the most highly acclaimed ads in recent years.
Francois said he doesn’t feel pressure to top those ads.
“What the pressure is really in the market today is to contain our marketing expenditures and investments and keep them at a sustainable level,” while simultaneously creating marketing campaigns that capture attention and stand out, he said.
Honda: Honda will use its Super Bowl time to bring attention to its redesigned Ridgeline pickup, revealed earlier this month at the Detroit auto show.
Ridgeline will make its television debut during the third quarter. It will be the automaker’s first Super Bowl ad since 2014.
“Super Bowl 50 is the right time and the right venue to communicate Honda’s continued leadership in light trucks,” Jeff Conrad, senior vice president and general manager of the Honda division, said in a statement.
Hyundai: Hyundai has assembled a dream team of directors who are creating four advertisements for Super Bowl 50.
The Korean automaker said the ads will showcase its Genesis sedan, also debuted at the Detroit auto show, in one spot, while the all-new 2017 Elantra, will be introduced to the public in two separate ads.
The directors include Peter Berg of Pony Show Productions, Fredrik Bond, MJZ Productions and Aaron Stoller and Janusz Kaminski of Biscuit Filmworks.
Kia: NBA All-Star Blake Griffin will star in a 60-second ad for the 2016 Kia Optima sedan. It will mark the Korean automaker’s seventh consecutive appearance in a Super Bowl.
Kia says its “marketing efforts are built on the core principle of challenging people to discover the exciting new Kia and question everything they think they know about the brand.”
No word on whether Kia will ever bring back its popular hamsters.
Mini: Mini is out to gain some respect with a new ad campaign called “Defy Labels” that will debut during the Super Bowl.
The campaign, for the all-new Mini Clubman, includes a wide range of athletes and movie stars that include tennis champion Serena Williams, soccer star Abby Wambach, skateboard legend Tony Hawk, Hall of Fame pitcher Randy Johnson, singer T-Pain and actor Harvey Keitel.
Mini is backing its Super Bowl commercial with a set of interviews of each celebrity or athlete talking about how they overcame hurtful or offensive labels as they achieved success.
Toyota: Japan’s No. 1 automaker will appear in Super Bowl 50 with a 60-second ad for its all-new Prius hybrid, which goes on sale this month.
As a one of the world’s largest automakers Toyota simply believes it should plant its flag on the biggest advertising stage possible. This will be the company’s fifth consecutive appearance.
The ad, created by Saatchi & Saatch, will air during the two-minute timeout before halftime.