In 6 days, 10 hours and 23 minutes the biggest U.S. sporting event of the year, Super Bowl 46, will begin. But what does American Football have to do with cars?

Last year around 111 million people watched the event live on TV, making it the most-watched single broadcast in the history of U.S. television. So perhaps it’s no surprise that a prime-time 30 second ad spot sells for up to $3.5 million..

But you might be surprised to realise that the advertising war is fought, not between sporting goods or even soft drinks companies, instead it’s the big automotive brands who will slug it out for the audience’s attention.

Of the 35 ad spots announced thus far, 13 of them are for automotive brands including Honda America, Acura, Audi of America, Bridgestone Americas,, Chrysler, General Motors (Chevy & Cadillac), Hyundai, Kia Motor, Lexus, Suzuki, Toyota and Volkswagen.

And let’s not forget that Super Bowl 46 is sponsored in its entirety by Chevrolet.

Isn’t this only relevant to U.S. viewers..?

The downstream value of advertising spend has changed a lot during the past decade, with the growth of online video platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Vimeo. Whilst the passive viewing figures of network TV look impressive at first glance, the real ‘meat’ of the campaign response happens online after the big game, where conversations and social sharing turn the spark of popularity into a viral phenomenon. Online is now the medium that reaps the long-run value from the huge TV spend on these campaigns.

Three of our Top 10 Most Shared Automotive Ads of 2011 were Super Bowl ads, with the most viral (Volkswagen’s ‘The Force’ commercial) owing its success purely due to its clever deployment in the week running up to Super Bowl 45.

So, Super Bowl month is a big deal for automotive advertisers not just in the U.S., but all around the world. During this period there is a huge increase in audience engagement as people talk about their favourite ads, and the attention is multiplied by the earned media coverage from publishers and social platforms.

However, in a straw poll taking during several conversations with agencies this morning, not one of those I spoke to were planning to take advantage by seeding their own campaigns into this perfect storm, either via hastag promotions or insight-driven search marketing. No wonder traditional display ad performance is at an all-time low..

Show me the money..

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the Super Bowl ads and teasers that have already broken cover online. There’s plenty more to come, so we’ll update this post as we receive them.

Acura “Jerry Seinfeld vs Jay Leno” NSX Big Game Commercial

If you don’t already know about one of America’s wealthiest funnyman, he’s also a HUGE car guy – mostly Porsche, but the 2015 Honda/Acura NSX would clearly suit him down to the ground.

The 60-second spot features comedian Jerry Seinfeld going to extreme lengths to bribe the man who holds the rights to buy the first 2015 Acura NSX supercar.

Honda confirmed at last month’s NAIAS Detroit auto show that the NSX will be built, so it remains to be seen who’ll manage to elbow their way to the front of the queue. I wouldn’t bet against Jerry Seinfeld.. unless of course J Leno wants it too.

Audi “Daylight”

With the Twilight series of vampire films continuing to excite audiences around the world, Audi have cleverly chosen to create a series of online commercials to promote the new LED headlights on the A7. Called “Daylight” (a subtle play on the film’s title), the series of five commercials portray Audi’s A7 when fitted with LED headlights as an accidental vampire slayer – “Something will take the lives of 25 vampires tonight. Hint: it won’t be a wooden stake”.

There’s also a social element to this campaign, which viewers can engage with at and win the prize of a trip to the Audi sportscar experience.

Bridgestone “Performance Balls and Puck”

Bridgestone Tyres (or Tires as written in the U.S.) have chosen an early April Fools theme for their Super Bowl ads this year. The sheer volume of videos within the campaign is more than all the rest of these brands put together – 17 at last count – but for the sake of brevity we’ll focus on the main Super Bowl 2012 teaser.

The ads present scenarios where the mild-mannered Bridgestone mega-minds (The Titans of Tread, The Rulers of Rubber..) put their tyre technologies to the test in an entirely new arena.. The sports world may never be the same again.

If you’d like to watch the other 16 videos, then head on over to SkiddPlayer’s Ads and Commercials channel or visit the Bridgestone Super Bowl Ads channel on YouTube.

Cadillac “Green Hell”

Cadillac’s 30-second Super Bowl spot is perhaps the most conventional of this year’s collection – over the past year Caddy have been developing their all-new ATS Saloon at Germany’s world-famous Nürburgring Nordschleife track and their Super Bowl spot simply brags about it being comparable with the world’s best – but if anyone disagrees, then just tell them to “..go to green hell.”

This is the ad that will be run by U.S. retailer during next weekend’s Super Bowl, which embraces the charitable goal of donating $1 to one of seven children’s charities for viewer’s who vote using the Shazam smartphone app. It’s a creepy ad featuring a two-headed customer in a car showroom, the smaller head sprouting from his shoulder representing his ‘confidence’ which has been coming out of him ever since he visited the website.

Chevrolet “Happy Grad”

In addition to their sponsorship of Super Bowl XLVI, Chevy are running three in-game TV commercials, two pre-game and two post-game. Together, of course, with online variations of this 60 second “Happy Grad” spot. In addition to the ad below, Chevy will also be running other campaigns in parallel, expected to generate 1.5-billion views during the 4-week campaign period. Not bad eh? But then again, it’s not going to be cheap.

“There’s 11 automakers advertising in the Super Bowl, so we had to figure out how we can make people laugh and make sure it’s entertaining enough to get out information from us – not just during the Super Bowl, but what do we do before, during and after,” said Chris Perry, Chevy’s VP Global Marketing and Strategy. Laugh? We nearly peed ourselves..

Honda: “Coming Soon” (Matthew Broderick returns in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off)

This is all set to be an epic TV commercial as Honda pulls out the Hollywood big guns to promote the redesigned CR-V. The 10 second intro is explained by the following statement, “We hate to be such a tease, but on a day like today, we just have to. Stick it out until the Super Bowl, or take a “day off” on Monday and catch the big reveal.”

Anyone over the age of 30 will instantly recognise the catchy (chucka chucka) riff from the 1986 film, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and know that there’s trouble afoot. We can’t wait to see what happens next..

UPDATE: And here’s the full 2:25 commercial featuring Broderick and the CR-V. Honda have cast Matthew Broderick as himself, skipping out on a day of acting work and living it up in his all-new CR-V.

In Honda’s homage to the 1986 classic they have hidden over two dozen references to the movie throughout the commercial. Some are obvious, some are VERY subtle. They’re inviting you to submit the ones you find via Twitter using the hashtag #dayoff

Hyundai “Think Fast” , “All For One” and “Cheetah”

Hyundai are running three Super Bowl ads this year, although only two will run during the Big Game. The first promotes the Genesis Coupe, describing its 343 bhp engine as giving new meaning to the phrase “Heart Pounding Power”…

To illustrate just how effectively it works, the 30-second ad shows that it even has the power to revive a passenger suffering from sleep apnoea (or was that a heart attack?), who, in the middle of sharing his latest pearls of wisdom with the young padawan driver, loses consciousness.

Our Genesis Coupe R-Spec driver proceeds to use the coop’s strong brakes and acceleration to shake his boss back to consciousness, although on such a quiet open road, you do just wonder why he didn’t just stop the car and give the poor bloke some proper resuscitation.

The spirit captured in Hyundai’s second Super Bowl ad is a showcase of the company’s culture, portrayed in their very own rendition of the Rocky Theme Song. Employees from Hyundai’s Montgomery, Alabama plant provide a little vocal encouragement to one of their designers.

Hyundai’s third and final ad is called “Cheetah”, and shows the danger of working as a animal-handler in a dramatic race between the new 198 bhp Hyundai Veloster Turbo and a Cheetah.

The Veloster Turbo (which looks rather tasty by the way) leaves the Cheetah for dust, but in the Cheetah’s frustration the only thing left to chase is the animal handler – who is also rather tasty, at least from the Cheetah’s point of view..

Kia Super Bowl XLVI teaser with supermodel Adriana Lima

Adriana Lima does anything but put us to sleep, so it will be interesting to find out exactly how the tune, ‘Mr Sandman’, and a gorgeous supermodel feed into promoting the Kia Optima. Apparently the storyline depicts an “extreme dream sequence” after the Sandman accidentally spills a whole bag of magic dust on a sleeping couple.

The 60-second ad spot entitled “Drive the Dream,” features the new 2012 Optima Limited as it races through a Gen X couple’s wildest dreams, including: Victoria’s Secret Angel Adriana Lima waving the checkered flag at a speedway; an in-your-face Mötley Crüe concert; mixed martial arts legend Chuck Liddell battling in the ring; a heroine and hunk on horseback in a romance novel setting; champion bull rider Judd Leffew taming a bucking rhinoceros; and a fairy tale ending.

The full extended-version of the ad will be available here on SkiddMark from February 2.

Lexus Superbowl Ad “The Beast” introducing the All-New 2013 GS

Lexus is making its first Super Bowl appearance to promote the 2013 GS, which hits US showrooms next month. The 15-second teaser depicts a powerful entity caged in a transportation container with the message, “The Next Generation of Lexus, cannot be contained”.

Update (31/1): Earlier this evening Lexus revealed their full 30-second spot, but unlike other brands it simply promotes the new GS saloon, unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show last September, with a closing promise that “..this is just a glimpse of what Lexus has in store for 2012.”

In the context of such strong competition this year, it’s a weak first-attempt without any story or a reason to share socially. Given the premium being charged for TV advertising during the Super Bowl, it’s difficult to see why Lexus chose to enter the race with this effort.

Suzuki “Sled” 2012 Super Bowl Ad

American Suzuki Motor Corporation will once again advertise during the Super Bowl with an all-new television commercial called “Sled”, highlighting the car maker’s all-wheel-drive 2012 Suzuki Kizashi sport saloon. The music used in the ad is “Party Still Jumpin” created by Ben Kahle and stars two actual Intuit Eskimos from Alaska. Filmed on Canada’s frozen Spray Lake on the outskirts of Canmore, Alberta the ad was shot in one day.

Toyota “It’s Reinvented! — Toyota Camry”

Toyota takes a light-hearted look at day-to-day experiences and items that could have been reinvented (like its all-new Camry saloon), such as a baby that never requires a nappy change, the Department of Motor Vehicles being an enjoyable place of fun and games, and house plants that defend against intruders by fighting crime.

The premise of the spot is that good things are always better when reinvented; and in this case, they are also funnier. The ad represents Toyota’s return to Super Bowl advertising after a 3-year hiatus. Just like Honda’s ad, Toyota have included a social element within their Super Bowl campaign, which will kick-off directly after the commercial is broadcast during the third quarter of the game.

Viewers will be encouraged to tweet with the #Reinvented hashtag about what they’d like to see reinvented and selected tweets will be responded to in real-time with a creative depiction of their idea. Sounds fun (if you’re in the US…)

Volkswagen “Bark Side”

Volkswagen were the undisputed ‘kings’ of Super Bowl XLV last year with their contagiously popular “Dark Side” commercial. Their tally of 4.8 million social shares represented a new record for branded video campaigns, and they’ve come out fighting in 2012 by featuring dogs in the pre-game teaser. Called “Bark Side”, the canine chorus barks a familiar tune and will be used to promote the new VW Beetle.

And there’s a strong social element to this year’s campaign with their “Intergalactic Invite” – and following star wars themed introduction;

“Pretty soon, in a neighbourhood not very far, far away…

Episode XLVI


Tensions rise in the galaxy as the Big Game approaches. An entire planet’s population waits for the invitation to feast on nachos, cheer on their team, and watch the legendary battle unfold. Little do the earthlings know that you, young Jedi, have already begun the quest to host the Big Game Party. You are about to create an INTERGALACTIC INVITE and save the galaxy from ultimate Game Day doom.

A year ago, you witnessed the power of a pint-size Lord of the Dark Side. This year, witness the power of a new Force. Volkswagen is back and better than ever…”

Credits: Several sources were used in compiling this article which I would like to acknowledge – Unruly Media’s Viral Video Chart, Adage, AutoAdOpolis and of course SkiddPlayer.


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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