Automakers show blitz for advertising's big game

In a 2013 spot, getting dad's Audi for the right spices up a kid's prom.
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With just under three weeks until kickoff, Super Bowl XLVIII is shaping up to be a New York-worthy traffic jam of big-budget auto ads.

Media reports suggest advertisers are spending an average of $4 million for each 30-second time slot. But for automakers trying to make a splash in front of the game's more than 100 million viewers, standing out early in what's expected to be another banner year for the U.S. auto industry could be worth it.

More brands might be added to this year's auto roster, but here's a rundown of what we know so far:

• Audi returns for the seventh straight year with a 60-second spot during the third quarter meant to build anticipation for the new A3 sedan, which goes on sale this spring.

• Chevrolet sat out in 2013 but returns to the game's starting lineup of big-brand advertisers with two commercials. Chevy has a full plate of vehicle launches this year, and Tim Mahoney, GM's global marketing boss, said last summer that the Super Bowl was the perfect venue to tell that story. Mahoney ran Volkswagen's U.S. marketing department when it used "The Force" in 2011.

Ram’s commercial honoring farmers scored big last year.

• Chrysler has dominated Super Bowl buzz for three years by crafting memorable minifilms with celebrity cameos that were more about attitude and swagger than selling, say, a Ram pickup. Now it's hard to imagine a Super Bowl without one.

• The company is coy about what, if anything, it has planned, but that's nothing new. Chrysler in the Sergio Marchionne era has made last-minute decisions about Super Bowl ads, working on creative until the 11th hour.

• Ford returns to the Super Bowl this year with a commercial scheduled for just prior to kickoff, according to a Ford spokeswoman. The company plans to announce more details about the vehicle to be featured, the theme of the ad and the length closer to the game. Sister brand Lincoln had two spots during last year's game.

The redesigned 2015 Genesis will star in a Hyundai commercial.

• Hyundai will feature its redesigned Genesis luxury sedan in one of two 30-second spots. A first-quarter ad, called "Dad's Sixth Sense," will highlight the Genesis' automatic braking feature in a parenting-themed spot. The other spot, dubbed "Nice" and running in the fourth quarter, will use humor to highlight the features of the compact Elantra.

• Jaguar makes its first Super Bowl appearance with a 30-second commercial for the F-Type coupe. The ad will kick off a British Villain-themed marketing campaign, which the company has said will be its biggest ever in the United States.

• Kia went for laughs with last year's "Hot Bots" spot for the Forte and "Space Babies" ad for the Sorento. Expect the conversation to be a little more sophisticated this year as Kia launches its K900 rwd flagship sedan with a 60-second spot.

• Toyota kicks off the advertising launch for its Highlander crossover with a 60-second spot. Marketing boss Jack Hollis declined to discuss the theme of the ad when it was announced in December, but said Toyota would partner with another global brand.

• Volkswagen makes its fifth straight appearance in the broadcast with a 60-second spot during the second quarter. Some of the characters will be actual German engineers, not actors. The spot will show how their "obsessiveness about making cars perfect can be a little funny," a Volkswagen spokesman said.

Gabe Nelson and Advertising Age contributed to this report.

You can reach Ryan Beene at rbeene@crain.com. -- Follow Ryan on Twitter


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