It began, as these things often do, modestly. A kid dressed as Darth Vader walks up to Volkswagen’s new-for-2012 Passat, moves his gloved hand toward the car’s hood and – just like that – starts the car; with, of course, a little help from the dad, armed with the Passat’s remote starter and watching the action from the kitchen. Shown prior to last year’s Super Bowl (that would be Super Bowl XLV) via the Internet, the spot quickly went viral, and today is better remembered than the game itself (who – again – won?).
With Volkswagen’s success last year (as of February 2011 it had over twelve million views on YouTube) it’s Katy-bar-the-door this year, with a host of automotive advertisers draining their ad budgets on both ad production and Super Bowl placement. Of course, they’re not waiting until this Super Bowl Sunday to share that creativity with an audience; instead, virtually anyone with an ad, from Acura and Audi to the aforementioned VW, is previewing their efforts this week. And while not sure if these previews enhance the Super Bowl viewing experience (anticipating ads the audience has already seen – or taking the much-needed break because they’ve already seen the ads), one can’t deny the additional buzz created by these previews distributed via the Internet and other social media.
The ads themselves run the gamut, from what is seen as traditionally (i.e., product-centric) automotive to how’d they come up with that? Cadillac, with the introduction of its all-new ATS, sticks to the traditional, showing its new 3-Series competitor (or so they imagine) on Germany’s famed Nurburgring race course.
Conversely, Honda revisits – with the help of Matthew Broderick rechanneling Ferris Bueller – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. This time – you guessed it – Ferris is behind the wheel of Honda’s new CR-V, probably one of several since the movie’s California Spyder went airborne. And Ferris and the CR-V have aged comparatively well; both, to be sure, have gained a few pounds – but which viewers watching the Super Bowl haven’t?
Toyota has not reinvented the Camry; the midsize sedan is significantly improved for 2012, but not reinvented. That can’t be said for this week’s Camry advertising, as its Super Bowl-bound advertising constitutes a very unique take when compared with the more typical Toyota pitch. The content describes numerous reinventions, from rainfall (shrinking your person) to curtains (made from pizza) before revealing the ‘reinvented’ Camry. With the narrator’s tongue placed firmly in cheek, it keeps the viewer watching; that viewership, Toyota hopes, leads to consideration.
Perhaps the day’s most audacious take will be by Audi. Using vampire-centric programming as its inspiration, the storyboard follows a young hunk joining his friends for a little late-night drinking (blood, of course). As he parks his Audi the nighttime is turned to daytime via the A7’s headlamps. And you can, of course, guess what happens then, but via Audi’s ad you won’t need to guess – you can ‘drink’ it in.
Even a comparatively small player in the marketplace, American Suzuki, makes a strategic appearance, with an Arctic-based scene creatively demonstrating the Suzuki Kizashi’s all-wheel drive prowess. Given the nod as ‘most creative’ by ABC’s Nightline, Suzuki hopes a few million views can give it the same sort of traction in the marketplace that it enjoys in the snow-covered Arctic.
The above is, of course, the proverbial tip of the advertising iceberg. Automotive content still won’t supersede the beer company’s plethora of pitches, but at least car enthusiasts stand a better chance – than beer enthusiasts – of remembering which ads they most liked.