Carmakers driven to advertise on Super Bowl

kia_superbowl_ad.top.jpgIn Kia's Super Bowl ad, aliens are more impressed with its car, the Optima, than their own spaceship. By Aaron Smith, staff writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Automakers are back in force for this year's Super Bowl -- just two years after the U.S. industry was nearly wiped out -- with nine companies purchasing multi-million dollar spots for the big game.

"This is certainly the highest number of auto companies in the Super Bowl in years," said Ian Beavis, executive vice president of the Nielsen Company's global automotive group. "Their participation reflects renewed confidence in the economy and the auto industry."

Ad experts are seeing this as a good sign that consumers are willing and able to buy big-ticket items such as automobiles.

"It's clearly an indication that automakers believe that things are coming back and they need to make a grab," said Steve McKee, president of McKee Wallwork Cleveland Advertising, an ad agency that runs Adbowl, a Web site where people can vote for their favorite Super Bowl ads.

"It's the Super Bowl, for crying out loud, so it's a gold rush," he said. "It's a great way to make some noise."

The "noise" doesn't come cheap. Fox, which is broadcasting the Feb. 6 showdown between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers, is charging an average of $3 million for a 30-second spot.

U.S. automakers General Motors (GM) and Chrysler Group -- both of which were close to filing for bankruptcy when the Steelers beat the Arizona Cardinals in the 2009 game -- will be running spots.

Chrysler Group announced Jan. 31 that it expects to make a profit in 2011 for the first time since 2005. General Motors is also expected to make a profit this year, for the first time since 2004. Chrysler was the only U.S. automaker among the six car advertisers in last year's Super Bowl.

The international automakers with Super Bowl ads are BMW (BMW), Volkswagen, Audi, Suzuki, Hyundai, Kia and Mercedes-Benz.

Automakers are back at the Super Bowl because consumers are back in showrooms, according to Dave Sargent, vice president of vehicle research for J.D. Power and Associates, a marketing information firm. Sargent said that automobile retail sales in January jumped 25% from a year earlier.

"Consumers are more confident about the future," he said, noting that confidence is of utmost importance in convincing consumers to buy "big ticket items" such as cars.

In addition, Sargent said credit is more readily available than it was a year ago.

"Not only do consumers want to go out and buy a car, but they're able to go out and buy a car," he said. "Credit is being freed up significantly."

The style of ads is changing, particularly with luxury vehicles, said Joe Schab, president of Mastermind, a marketing agency. He said that shoppers for high-end cars are thriftier than they used to be, and less willing to throw money at a product for the sheer sake of obtaining a status symbol.

"[A car] is a high involvement purchase, something that's going to be a part of someone life for the next three or five years," said Schab. "Even a luxury brand is going to be talking about value."

McKee said that automakers are using the biggest football game of the year as a venue to tap into "pent up demand for cars."

"I think everyone is desperate for the era of austerity to end," he said. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,279.74 13.75 0.08%
Nasdaq 4,579.79 -13.64 -0.30%
S&P 500 2,010.40 -0.96 -0.05%
Treasuries 2.59 -0.04 -1.60%
Data as of 8:23am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Microsoft Corp 47.52 0.84 1.80%
Bank of America Corp... 16.95 -0.09 -0.53%
Oracle Corp 39.80 -1.75 -4.21%
The Coca-Cola Co 42.05 0.26 0.62%
Cisco Systems Inc 25.20 -0.02 -0.08%
Data as of Sep 19

Sections

7,000 Ravens fans traded Ray Rice jerseys for one with another player's name. The team gave vouchers after it ran out of replacement jerseys. More

Gen Xers have higher salaries than their parents, but they have so much debt that they have a hard time saving, investing and buying homes. More

It's really good to be Larry Ellison. The Oracle founder is stepping down as CEO, so maybe he'll have more time to enjoy his glamorous life. More

As Occupy Wall Street goes on its debt-abolishing tear, thousands of people across the country are begging them to forgive their loans. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.