Viewers tuning into this year’s Super Bowl won’t get to see a pint-sized Darth Varder use “the force” start another Volkswagen as the German automaker isn’t part of the commercial roster for this year’s game, along with Jaguar, General Motors, Ford and several others.
The number of automakers with ads on this year’s broadcast is down significantly: the lowest level in five years. Last year, 11 brands were featured, whereas this year just five are confirmed. It’s the lowest level since 2010, which is when automakers were just beginning to see a dramatic sales turnaround.
However, the five that are advertising are running different types of ads. Mercedes-Benz plans to air some humorous ads. While Toyota plans to tug at viewers’ heart strings with ads about what it means to be a dad. Kia is using Pierce Brosnan, formerly James Bond, for a 60-second spot on the new Sorento crossover. BMW will hype its new i3 EV in a commercial and Nissan returns to the game for the first time since 1997.
Typically, automakers are big players in the Super Bowl advertising game. The 2014 Super Bowl marked the fourth consecutive year of increasing ad spends by carmakers with $113 million spent: accounting for more than a quarter of total ad time in the game.
One of the reasons automakers may be cutting their Big Game ads is that the prices are at their highest levels in history: $4.5 million for 30 seconds of air time. Last year, 30-second ad cost $4.2 million. Those prices are just an average. Where in the game an ad appears determine what the actual price of the time ends up being.
The total ad spend for this year’s game is expected to exceed $330 million and account for 47 minutes of ads, according to Kantar Media, an advertising consulting firm in New York.
Those prices don’t even include the money invested in producing the commercial. With auto sales rolling, many may feel they don’t need to spend the cash to keep the momentum going in 2015.
Executives at the National Football League and NBC might argue the commercials are money well spent, pointing at Chrysler and how it began its current renaissance with its “Imported from Detroit” series of ads that kicked off during the Super Bowl a few years ago.
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In 2011, it kicked the series off with its critically acclaimed “Born of Fire” spot featuring Eminem touting the refreshed Chrysler 200. Since then its continued the string with 2012’s “Halftime in America,” featuring Clint Eastwood; and 2013’s “Farmer,” featuring legendary broadcaster Paul Harvey’s “So God Made a Farmer” speech and a Jeep ad narrated by Oprah Winfrey.
(Click Here for details about Volvo capturing the auto ad of the year.)
In 2014, the automaker aired three ads, including one with Bob Dylan for the completely redesigned 2015 Chrysler 200. At this point, it’s unclear if Chrysler or its parent, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, will have any spots this year, which is ironic given that only Anheuser-Busch InBev has spent more during the last five years than Chrysler’s $89.5 million, according to Kantar Media.
(To see more about VW and BMW teaming up for new fast-charging stations, Click Here.)
Again, it bears repeating that automakers are a big part of Super Bowl advertising with Hyundai and Volkswagen helping to round out the top five Big Game spenders since 2010 at $69.8 million and $68.1 million.
During the past five years the top five Super Bowl advertisers have spent $456.6. million on network advertising during the game, accounting for 35% of total advertising revenue. The 2014 Super Bowl had a record-setting 111.5 million viewers. Officials expect this year’s game to set another record, and automakers are taking different approaches to their ads.