Automakers--particularly those here in the U.S.--have had a few tough years. Terrible economy. Imminent bankruptcy. Unpopular public bailout. Etc. Etc. So they've been needing a little ink in the win column.
Well, after risking a lot on ridicously expensive Super Bowl advertising, the industry has scored some serious wins. According to Edmunds, auto companies nearly doubled their Super Bowl ad presence from last year's game and made up the largest single-category advertiser during the game. At a reported $3 million for 30-second ad, the industry spent a whole lot of money on the game.
While it will take a while before we know how 2011 auto sales are shaping up, automakers' collective investment is going well so far. First, Super Bowl XLV surpassed last year's game to become the biggest program in U.S. television history with 111 million viewers. So automakers were able to reach a pretty broad segment of the population.
Second, automakers had some of the most popular commercials of the evening. In particular, Volkswagen's "The Force" ad, which featured a little kid dressed up as Darth Vader who was finally able to "summon the force" and turn on the lights of his dad's Passat (his dad was in he window with the remote entry), was a favorite. AdBowl.com ranked it the #1 ad of the game; USA Today's Ad Meter gave it the #3 spot and Viral Videos Chart had it at sitting at the top viral videos the day after the game. By Tuesday, it had racked up more than 20 million views on YouTube.
A close competitor to Volkswagen was Chrysler with its more somber, dramatic (and long) "Imported from Detroit" ad, which featured Eminem and the Chrysler 200. AdBowl had it at #7, and many, including Joanne Muller of Forbes , agree that it was the most memorable ad of the day. The dramatic tone and two-minute length of the commercial (the longest in Super Bowl history) made it buzzworthy whether you liked it or not.
Other car commercials that scored well include Audi's "Release the Hounds" spot, Volkswagen's other spot "Black Beetle" and Bridgestone's "Reply All" and "Carma" (the friendly beaver) spots.
I personally liked VW's "Black Beetle", Hyundai's "Anachronastic City" and Audi's "Release the Hounds" spots the best out of all the Super Bowl car ads. How about you?