Automakers Spent $90 Million on Super Bowl Ads

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The auto industry spends a small fortune on advertising during the Super Bowl. Some industry folks even think of the game as the second-largest auto show in the United States.

And it doesn’t come cheap. According to Ad Age, a 30-second advertising unit cost between $4.6 million and a bit more than $5 million.

For 2015’s game, six auto manufacturers spent $96.8 million to air 11 minutes of commercials for nine car brands. And that was less than the $113.4 million spent by nine automakers on 13.5 minutes of commercials for 11 brands in 2014, but still the most time and money allotted to any one category of Super Bowl XLIX advertiser.

The following is the tally for seven carmakers that spent a total of about $90 million for nine minutes of Super Bowl 50 advertising.

Hyundai/Kia ran three ads, one of which was a 60-second spot for Kia (the “Walken Closet”). At $5 million per unit, that’s $20 million. Hyundai’s U.S. division also signed a deal with the NFL last year giving the company the right to use NFL logos in its advertising and on its cars. That cost $50 million for four years.

According to Kelley Blue Book (KBB), searches on its website for the Kia Optima increased by 496%. The jump for the Hyundai Genesis was 400% and for the Hyundai Elantra 110%. Searches on the Kia brand were up 110% and searches on the Hyundai brand were up 18%.


General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) ran a single 30-second ad for its Buick brand. GM did not buy any Super Bowl time last year, and by historical standards for the company, spending about $5 million on big-game day is modest. KBB reported that searches on the Buick brand rose 81%.

Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) posted just one ad, but it was a 90-second spot that would have cost the carmaker around $15 million. The star was the redesigned Prius, and Toyota got a 313% bump in searches on the KBB website after the ad was broadcast.

Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (NYSE: HMC) ran two ads, one of which was 60 seconds long. That cost the company about $15 million. The company was promoting its new Ridgeline pickup and its Acura NSX supercar. Searches on the Honda brand rose 25% and searches on the Acura brand rose 56% after the ads were shown.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (NYSE: FCAU) ran two spots during the game, both 60-second ads for its 75th anniversary of the Jeep brand. At a cost of around $20 million, searches on the Jeep Renegade rose 78% and searches on the Jeep brand rose 99%.

BMW’s Mini brand ran one 30-second spot for its new Clubman compact crossover. According to KBB, searches on the Clubman rose 250% and searches on the Mini brand rose 245%.

The brand and the car that attracted the most searches was Audi for its R8 supercar ad. Searches for the Audi R8 model rose 7,780% according to KBB and searches on the Audi brand rose 448%. The company’s 60-second spot for the R8 cost approximately $10 million.