GM on a roll: 1st Super Bowl ads in 3 years

By Chris Isidore, senior writer


DETROIT (CNNMoney) -- In yet another sign of its resurgence, General Motors will advertise on this year's Super Bowl telecast for the first time since 2008.

Joel Ewanick, GM's global marketing chief, said the automaker will return to the pro football championship game with a budget bigger than it had in its previous appearances on the broadcast.

Spots during the game, which will be aired on Fox, are reported to be selling for as much as $3 million for 30 seconds.

GM will advertise only one of its four brands -- Chevrolet -- before, during and after the game. It also plans to advertise on the episode of the Fox hit series "Glee," which will air after the game.

"It's going to be all Chevy, all day long," said Ewanick.

GM and Chrysler Group both missed the 2009 Super Bowl as they appealed for a federal bailout and prepared to file for bankruptcy. GM eventually received $50 billion in taxpayer money, while Chrysler received $12.8 billion.

Chrysler returned to the big game last year, while GM stayed on the sidelines.

Chevy will be competing for attention during the game with seven other automakers, according to trade publication AdAge, up from six last year and five in 2009.

Ewanick came to GM last year from Korean automaker Hyundai, which made a major splash in the industry partly through its Super Bowl ads.

Hyundai was one of the automakers who stepped into the void left by GM and Chrysler in 2009, when it announced its assurance program that let buyers who lost their jobs return their new cars at no penalty.

GM (GM) is the No. 3 U.S. advertiser in terms of ad spending, according to tracking firm Kantar Media, behind only consumer products maker Procter & Gamble (PG, Fortune 500) and telecom AT&T (T, Fortune 500). Kantar estimates GM spent $1.5 billion on advertising in the first nine months of 2010, up 21% from the same period of 2009.

Ewanick said GM's total advertising budget this year will be about 1% to 2% greater than it was in 2010.

Among the products GM will be advertising during the Super Bowl is its new plug-in electric vehicle, the Volt, which hit showrooms in December. The Volt will remain a low-volume niche car for the foreseeable future, as GM gears up the new technology. It had sales of 326 vehicles in its first month of availability.

But Ewanick said it makes sense to advertise the Volt, even in a high-profile event such as the Super Bowl, because of customer reaction to GM offering the new technology.

"The Volt is a halo car for us," he said. "The more awareness people have about the Volt, the higher the consideration for Chevrolet in general is. It is going to sell Cruzes, it is going to sell Malibus, it is going to sell pickup trucks."  To top of page

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