Super Bowl advertisers used a variety of tactics to capture eyeballs Sunday night.
Chevy tried to strike a little terror in people’s hearts, while BMW and Kia went heavy on the jokes with Bryant Gumbel, Katie Couric and James Bond.
The entertainment value was great -- it better be with commercials costing $4.5 million for 30-second slots. But let’s not forget why automakers are paying these hefty premiums in the first place.
It’s about moving metal. But before they can do that, they need to draw consumers in.
So which automakers generated the most interest in their products with their commercials?
Data from shopping sites Edmunds.com, AutoTrader.com, and Kelley Blue Book (KBB.com) show that luxury brands BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus capitalized on their big moments.
On AutoTrader, search traffic for the sporty Mercedes-AMG GT S rose 3,107 percent after “Fable,” an edgy reimagining of the fabled tortoise vs. hare race, hit the airwaves.
AutoTrader, like KBB.com, says it determines traffic surges by measuring search activity the hour after an ad runs and comparing it to search activity an hour before the game.
The peppy Lexus RC 350 saw a 2,069 percent boost on the site after its playful spot about precision drifting ran. The BMW i3’s searches increased 433 percent after viewers took a journey back to simpler times in 1994 as Gumbel and Couric tried to make sense of the Internet.
KBB.com searches for the Lexus RC 350 jumped 1,820 percent, while the i3 had a 1,131 percent rise. For Mercedes, AMG GT traffic saw a 950 percent gain.
The story was the same on Edmunds.com. The AMG GT had the largest cumulative traffic spike at 2,189 percent, according to the site. The i3 came in second with a 583 percent traffic increase, while the RC 350 experienced a 568 percent rise in traffic. Edmunds compares search traffic to the previous Sunday.
A proven winner
Michelle Krebs, senior analyst for AutoTrader.com, says consumers look for a story, a formula that’s a proven winner in the Super Bowl.
“If you looked at what [Mercedes] did a couple years ago [with its CLA Super Bowl ad], the $29,000 CLA that got a ton of traffic. Now they’re shifting gears and are focused on performance and their very top of the line AMG models. We sort of saw Lexus do the same thing,” Krebs said in an interview today.
“Lexus has thriving business with baby boomers, but baby boomers are aging, and Lexus has publicly acknowledged it has to go after younger buyers. It did that, like Mercedes did, focusing on performance. It was interesting to see BMW take a different tack from its two luxury competitors by focusing on the i3 electric car to make a statement that electric cars are a brand within that brand.”
Chevrolet didn’t run any spots during the game, but its masterful “Blackout” ad just before kickoff for the Colorado made its mark. The brand seemingly took over the broadcast as the screen scrambled and went to black.
Colorado traffic spiked 1,104 percent on Edmunds during the first quarter.
Chevy ran three pregame Colorado ads, which led to a 395 percent traffic surge on AutoTrader.
“That proved you don’t have to be in the game, but you can actually do well pregame, Krebs said.
Here are more winners:
- Fiat 500X traffic increased 14,627 percent during halftime, shortly after its “Blue Pill” ad ran, according to Edmunds.
- BMW i3 traffic increased 1,807 percent during halftime following its ad, Edmunds found.
- Chevrolet Colorado search activity jumped 421 percent during halftime when its ad was still fresh in people’s minds, Edmunds says.
- The Jeep Renegade spot aired in the third quarter, leading to an immediate 1,031 percent traffic boost; during the fourth quarter Edmunds says the traffic increase was 5,720 percent.
AutoTrader’s Krebs says Fiat Chrysler was the big winner in the end. Fiat brand traffic increased 143 percent on the site overall.
Dodge traffic saw a 27 percent bump -- a strong number for a mass market brand, Krebs said.