Super Bowl Ad Preview: How Have OEMs Positioned Themselves?

Epic Super Bowl Graphic

As a marketer, I’ve got my eye on two battles at this Sunday’s Super Bowl. Of course, there’s the action on the field - Super Bowl XLVII, a gladiatorial war waged between mountainous men in an arctic Jersey winter. A clash between Seattle’s young talent and Peyton Manning’s legacy. Many Americans care about this game, and they are called “gamblers.”


But these are the affairs of mortals. The real struggle is fought between brands, with weapons of advertising budgets and celebrity endorsements forged in the darkest brainstorming sessions. The Super Bowl is the most watched televised event of the year, and with it comes a chance for marketers to imprint their messaging directly onto the public consciousness. Oreo scored a huge touchdown last year with a single tweet, issued during a 34-minute power outage at the Superdome.


This year, advertisers aren’t even waiting for Sunday. By taking a page from the Hollywood playbook, brands are now posting their Super Bowl TV spots online - weeks ahead of time. Because I work for an automotive live chat company (shameless plug: one of the highest-rated SaaS providers on the market), I’m particularly interested in car ads. How have manufacturers positioned themselves? Let’s preview a few of the pitches we’ll see this weekend:


Audi - “Doberhuahua”

Audi’s no stranger to producing Super Bowl ads, and this year they’ve decided that a mutant CGI Pinscher-Chihuahua hybrid is still a better spokesperson than Jason Statham. Though the commercial has already been well-received (judging from social media reactions to #doberhuahua), I think Audi’s trying too hard by placing that dog from The Mask front and center - and leaving footage of the new A3 as a 5-second afterthought.


Kia - “The Truth”

“Take the blue key, and you’ll go back to the luxury you know. Take the red key, and you’ll never look at luxury the same way again,” says Lawrence Fishburne, reprising his role as Morpheus in Kia’s ad for the new K900 sedan. While jokes about The Matrix lost their potency about 10 years ago, it’s still pretty funny to watch Fishburne belt out the famous Puccini aria, “Nessun dorma.” Close-up shots of the car’s interior and sleek components lend some credibility to the hyperbolic claims of leisure.


Hyundai - “Dad’s Sixth Sense”

Some car commercials focus on brilliance in innovation, some focus on tender family moments, and others on wacky humor. Hyundai’s spot about emergency brake systems in the 2015 Genesis expertly blends sentimentality with on-point messaging, comparing the sedan’s myriad safety features with a father’s love. Of all the advertisements we’ve posted here, I’ve got a hunch that this one will move the most metal.


Jaguar - “Rendezvous”

This is Jaguar's first ever Super Bowl commercial, and the British automaker clearly has a few marketing dollars to blow. Actors Tom Hiddleston, Mark Strong, and Sir Ben Kingsley introduce the 2015 F-Type Coupe in a spot directed by Oscar winner Tom Hooper, featuring an original score by Alexandre Desplat. The campaign puts a darker spin on the luxury brand, positioning Jag as the preferred car of villains and evil geniuses. English nationalism runs amok - the ad almost conveys a little resentment that Brits are usually cast as Hollywood bad guys.


Toyota - “Joyride”

Since retiring from the NFL in 1997, former defensive end Terry Crews has found a career making absolutely preposterous advertisements (see: Old Spice). To promote the new Highlander SUV, Toyota mixes Crews’ rabid facial expressions with the melodic antics of the Muppets. I’m not sure I even get the punchline - was Terry Crews hallucinating about the Muppets the whole time? Did he huff too much Old Spice spray deodorant? Maybe we’ll find out on game day. 


Volkswagen - “Wings”

Volkswagen’s fifth consecutive Super Bowl appearance is less Star Wars and more It’s a Wonderful Life; the ad claims that every time a VW reaches 100,000 miles, an engineer gets his wings. While the spot doesn’t quite reach the iconic status of Darth Vader kid, it reinforces the brand’s reputation for longevity and quality (another shameless plug: VW also made a great decision by using ActivEngage chat on its main website).

Who will win big on game day? The Broncos? The Seahawks? Bruno Mars? McDonald’s? We’ll find out this weekend. .

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Comment by Stephen Jackson on February 5, 2014 at 12:57pm

Hey Robert - 

Actually, we wrote this blog before Chrysler, GM, and Ford unveiled their ads. Domestic manufacturers were keeping their cards close to the vest (no one even saw Chrysler's Bob Dylan ad until the big game). If you're interested in this, we could run a follow-up with the ads of the big American manufacturers.

Thanks for the comments!

Comment by Robert Baran on February 3, 2014 at 1:15pm

I find it typical that domestic manufacturers were left out of this blog. Ford presented the Pre Kickoff show and the Pre Kickoff commercials. I guess you got to your seat late.

GM aslo represented Chevy with ads and Chrylser did a great job with an ad for the Chrysler 200. I guess unless its foreign It doesn't matter. I think not! 

Comment by Joelle Felice Paige on February 3, 2014 at 9:08am

Great blog!

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