For the first time in eight years, the Detroit 3 will sit on the sidelines rather than advertise during the Super Bowl telecast.
Three import brands -- Hyundai, Audi and Toyota -- are buying ad time during Sundays NFL championship game. So is Cars.com, an auto shopping Web site.
NBC, which is broadcasting this years game, is charging $2.8 million to $3 million for 30 seconds of commercial time. The game is expected to attract 100 million U.S. TV viewers -- nearly one of every three Americans.
Mike Bernacchi, a marketing professor at the University of Detroit Mercy, says the Super Bowl is as much a statement game for auto advertisers as for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals.
Dont think for a minute that Hyundai, Audi and Toyota are not loving the fact that no American car companies are in Americas biggest game, Bernacchi said.
The last time neither General Motors, Ford Motor Co. nor Chrysler advertised during the Super Bowl was in 2001, according to an Advertising Age listing. Before that, none of the Detroit 3 advertised in the 1991 Super Bowl.
GM and Ford say they are cutting their marketing budgets for 2009. Gary Topolewski, a Detroit advertising executive who helped craft a Cadillac commercial that aired during the 2003 Super Bowl, said the Detroit 3 would likely avoid making an expensive media buy this year while GM and Chrysler LLC are using emergency federal loans to survive.
Its probably a good thing, considering where they are right now, Topolewski said of the Detroit 3. They have to be smarter in how they communicate.
GM decided last September not to advertise during Sundays game, spokeswoman Kelly Cusinato. We did not have a major vehicle launch aligned with the game, she said. GMC advertised during last years Super Bowl.
George Rogers, president of Team Detroit, which handles Ford Motor advertising, said that $3 million is a lot to invest for 30 seconds of very distributed eyeballs who primarily want to be entertained.
Audi will promote its A6 sedan during the first quarter of Sundays game. The 60-second commercial features action movie star Jason Statham. The spot shows Statham being chased by luxury vehicles over several decades. He dodges pursuit in the A6.
Also during the first quarter, a 30-second Toyota Division commercial will advertise the new 2009 Venza crossover. The ad is produced by Burrell Communications, which handles Toyotas advertising to blacks.
Hyundai pushes Genesis
In a 30-second commercial in the second quarter, Hyundai will celebrate its North American Car of the Year award for the 2009 Genesis sedan. A jury of 50 auto journalists bestowed the award.
Another 30-second commercial in the third quarter will tout a new Hyundai program that allows buyers and lease customers to return a new vehicle if they lose their job within a year of purchase.
Cars.coms 60-second commercial will run during the second quarter. It portrays a young man who lacks confidence in his car-buying skills, but gains it by using the Web site.
Audi and Hyundai both advertised during last years Super Bowl. Audis commercial for the R8 sports car -- a spoof of the movie The Godfather -- tripled traffic to the automakers Web site within a month of the game, said spokesman Jeff Kuhlman.
Hyundais two Super Bowl spots for the Genesis drew 300,000 visitors to the companys Web site during the game, said spokesman Chris Hosford. Those contacts generated 25,000 sales leads, he said.
Adds Joel Ewanick, marketing vice president of Hyundai Motor America: And those people stayed with us. They were an important source of vehicle sales.
Advertising Age and Crains Detroit Business contributed to this report