With Super Bowl 2012 just hours away (well it was when I ‘started’ writing this), we’re taking another look at our scorecard as automotive brands pitch hard to win over the biggest single-event audience in the world.

It’s worth reminding you why we’re paying attention to a ‘football game’ when our main focus is obviously cars, driving and the lifestyle surrounding them.

Put simply, the Super Bowl has become the biggest stage for brand marketing in the U.S. and one of the most significant factors behind the success of each brand’s marketing activities throughout the year, both in the U.S. and globally. And surprisingly it’s Automotive brands which dominate ‘and’ rate highest with audiences in terms of increased buzz.

But Super Bowl success goes far beyond TV advertising, with nearly as many viewers watching the ads offline, and unlike ‘broadcast’ media, online represents a personal ‘choice’ and is therefore of greater value.

This is perhaps one of the best illustrations of ‘New Media’, which rather than being defined by technology (i.e. digital vs print or broadcast) is actually better explained by the separation of content from the channel it’s being carried on. Yes, there are specific adjustments necessary to optimise each medium, but the winning brands are those that treat the world as their stage and build their content to reach audiences wherever they may choose to consume it.

Topping the automotive brands in this year’s Super Bowl are Honda and Volkswagen, who’ve stolen a march on the 14 other brands who’ve ploughed tens of millions of dollars into the event. Both have leaned heavily on popular characters from TV and Film (Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld, Matthew Broderick, Darth Vader/Star Wars) and used humour as one of their principal ingredients.

There are also a few late entrants (BMW, Kia) that could create a few upsets for our league table, so we’ll revisit the scorecard later in the week to see how they’ve fared.

The Pre-game Scorecard

In the top 10 Super Bowl ads this year, 7 of them are for Automotive brands but even more impressive is this – 7 Automotive ads represent 92.3% of the social shares within this premiere group.

These top 10 videos have clocked up just over 54 million views between them so far, and to further underline the dominance of the automotive sector, they represent 94.4 % of this total – that’s despite the best efforts of David Beckham (H&M), Budweiser and the U.S. Navy Seal themed ‘Act of Valor’ trailer.

As before all data has been provided by Unruly Media’s Viral Video Chart and is valid as of 05/2/2012 at 17:00 GMT. Previous data was taken at 19:10 GMT on 31/1/2012.

Campaign Brand Total Views Social Shares % Shares/View
The Bark Side: 2012 Volkswagen Game Day (Teaser) Volkswagen 11,909,095 (+15.4%) 692,825 (+10.3%) 5.82 (-0.28%)
“Coming Soon” and “Matthew’s Day Off” Honda CR-V Honda 16,617,676 (+99.08%) 329,256 (+33.60%) 1.98 (-0.97)
Volkswagen: The Dog Strikes Back commercial Volkswagen 3,800,953 (NEW) 118,712 3.12
Audi “Daylight” Vampire Party Audi 4,059,738 (+100.2%) 58,154 (+73.96%) 1.43 (-0.22)
“Transactions” Acura NSX Ad feat. Jerry Seinfeld & Jay Leno Acura (luxury brand of Honda) 14,095,155 (+1941%) 50,568 (+459.6%) 0.36 (-0.95)
Kia Optima: “A Dream Car. For Real Life.” Kia 761,156 (NEW) 17,778 2.34
It’s Reinvented! — Toyota Camry Toyota 2,030,717 (+1447%) 12,486 (+710) 0.61 (-0.56)
Suzuki “Sled” 2012 Super Bowl Ad Suzuki Auto 353,459 (+227.94%) 4,172 (+43.17%) 1.18 (-1.52)

So what’s happened?

Volkswagen’s early lead was overtaken by Honda during the latter part of the week (now 15.7 million views versus 16.6 million), although VW are miles ahead when we look at social shares (811,000 versus 329,000). Even if we included Acura (Honda’s luxury car division), we would still be looking at only 379,000 shares, but a whopping 30 million views.

GM, the biggest spender at this year’s Super Bowl, have dropped further behind the big two with Chevrolet’s ‘Happy Grad’ advert dropping from 9th to 24th in the chart, but thankfully (for Chevy) their Silverado truck advert has stepped in to carry the brand forwards (currently 12th).

Despite all the hoopla over Audi’s Twilight-themed Vampire Party ads, it must be embarrassed by its performance compared to sister brand Volkswagen. Quite frankly it hasn’t caught on – perhaps audiences are (finally!) tiring of the Robert Pattinson/Kristen Stewart storyline and Audi have been too late to the party in using it. Whatever the reason, despite a 70-100% increase on last week’s figures, the opposition seem to have a lot more power under their hoods.

Watch out for Kia going forwards next week, it’s an epic ad, with a start-studded cast and it’s clearly designed to appeal to both sexes.

But the race continues between Volkswagen and Honda/Acura. Who will win the bragging rights in our scorecard? But perhaps more importantly, who will translate their Super Bowl success into the kind of numbers their shareholders place a value on?

The Newcomers

Several new videos have joined the fray since last week, most of which we will talk about another time. If you missed the original batch of ads, then you can watch them in our previous post, meanwhile here are some of our favourite new ones.

Kia Optima: “A Dream Car. For Real Life.”

Chevy Silverado “Apocalypse” featuring Ford



Chevy Sonic “Joy”

Chevy Volt “Aliens #1 – Come On”

Written By

Steve Davies

Steve is an investor, private equity advisor and former Partner at KPMG, PwC and Bain.   Most importantly he's a life-long car enthusiast, mountain biker and active sports enthusiast. He designs and builds technology platforms and is the architect behind Transmission.

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