Super Bowl XLV: Car ads come zooming back


Broadcasters have been saying it for a while now, but the Super Bowl proved it: automotive advertising is back. Everyone can breathe that sigh of relief now.

At least two auto manufacturers — General Motors and BMW — returned to the Super Bowl after a multi-year absence. And Chrysler made a big splash with a two-minute ad featuring hip-hop superstar Eminem giving us a tour of his home town, Detroit, in the new Chrysler 200 sedan. That ad was the game’s most buzzed-about, according to the Associated Press, citing NM Incite, a Nielsen/McKinsey Co. that tracks online buzz.

“It was a very risky commercial, but it scored very well with our panel” that rates the ads, Tim Calkins, Clinical Professor of Marketing at the Kellogg School of Management, told the AP.

Overall, GM’s Chevrolet brand ran six spots, according to the car-maker’s blog. In one, a Camaro turns into a Transformer and terrorizes a local car dealership, capitalizing on the car-maker’s involvement with that very popular film franchise. And Chevy’s now-famous Glee ad did not run during the actual Super Bowl, but was very cleverly integrated into the show’s post-Super Bowl episode.

Other auto ads also debuted to buzz, including my favorite, Volkswagen’s ad featuring an adorable mini-Darth Vader who is amazed to discover that he can use The Force to turn on his parents’ VW Passat. That ad went viral before it even premiered. It scored a 7.95 on USA Today’s 23rd annual ad meter, reportedly tying it with a 1997 Nissan ad for the highest rating ever by a Super Bowl car ad, according to the New York Daily News. Baby Darth couldn’t beat out the dogs though, who were featured in the first-place ads for both Doritos (not my favorite, that guy bugged me) and Bud Light (better, but not as creative as Baby Darth).

BMW returned to the Super Bowl after a decade off, according to All in all, says the blog, there were a total of 18 automotive ads in this year’s national football championship.

While Super Bowl ad time is TV’s most expensive at $3 million per 30 seconds, it’s also by far the most viewed and the most buzzed about. Super Bowl XLV was the most-viewed TV program in history, with 111 million viewers tuning in.

That enormous audience plus the post-game online buzz makes that $3 million one of the best values most advertisers will ever get for a 30-second spot.