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.