If you were one of the millions of people who watched the Super Bowl Feb. 1, then you witnessed a nail-biting game, a wild halftime show and, of course, plenty of highly anticipated commercials. The auto industry is often predominantly featured during these breaks in action, and the most recent game was no different.
Fewer automakers took part
According to a survey from Kelley Blue Book's website, KBB.com, automakers face a lot of challenges when they're putting together commercials. Not only do they have to battle dozens of other advertisers during the game, but they also have to make a splash that's going to resonate with viewers in the long run. The survey found that audience members often struggle to recall car ads in the weeks and months following the Super Bowl. That makes it more difficult to create an impactful ad, and in turn that scares some automakers away.
KBB.com noted that the number of car manufacturers advertising during this Super Bowl was about half of last year's total. Although viewers will still see ads from famous companies like Dodge, Toyota and Fiat, they may notice that the commercials are not as frequent as in the past. The ones that are participating, however, make an effort to talk about more than just fuel efficiency or vehicle maintenance. Instead, many use the Super Bowl - and its massive audience - as an opportunity to further the brand.
"Immediate sales aren't the object of these commercials; instead, the desire is to spin the brand's story in a compelling and unique way that will get talked about," said Jack R. Nerad, an analyst for KBB.com. "Advertising during the Big Game may fuel a carmaker's profile and generate some immediate buzz, but unless that is sustainable, the high cost may not be justifiable."
Going for humor
One of the first commercials to air was also one of the funniest - at least with regard to automobiles. Fiat highlighted an older foreign man who loses a special blue pill at an inopportune time, and that pill takes a unique trip around town. It ultimately winds up in the gas tank of a new Fiat 500, enhancing the model to the point where it becomes a 500X crossover, the latest model from the brand. This may have been one of the few humorous commercials on the night, but it may be one of the most memorable as well.
Looking back to history
Dodge will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2015, and the automaker decided to mark that milestone in a Super Bowl commercial. It opened with a somber tone, with a series of 100-year-olds offering wisdom about life. Then it takes an optimistic turn, with the centenarians talking about living fast and having fun as they sit behind the wheel of new Dodge vehicles.
BMW also had a throwback in its commercial. The ad opened with a clip from "The Today Show" that aired more than 20 years ago. In it, Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel were struggling to discuss and understand the Internet. Then the commercial flipped to the present day, where the two anchors were sitting in a BMW i3 and trying to understand the new technology that powers the advanced car. With just the right balance of humor and mystery, this spot is one that was a success with viewers.
Tearjerkers dominate the night
In one of what was a series of sad and downright depressing ads from a variety of companies, Nissan offered a commercial titled "With Dad." It featured a father experiencing different stages of life with his son, all while carrying out his job as a race car driver. Toyota had a similar commercial. The spot, titled "To Be A Dad," which spotlighted several football stars and their kids.