The chicken wings and guacamole from Super Bowl parties are long gone, but what about dealerships seeing a meaningful lift in shopper activity stemming from the television advertising bought by automakers during the game?
If past trends are any indication, the store phones should have been busier than drink and food stations at those Big Game shindigs. Based off of its own internal call data from 2015, 2016 and 2017, CallRail found that on average inbound calls to dealerships increase 513 percent the day after the Super Bowl.
No doubt, dealerships hope those calls are to inquire about their current inventory, not about the future of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. A wide array of industry observers crunched data as the Philadelphia Eagles went on to their first Super Bowl championship in order to determine which OEMs tasted a victory with their advertising efforts.
“As is the case with previous Super Bowls, the automotive industry was well-represented before, during, and after the game Sunday evening,” said Libby Murad-Patel, vice president marketing and strategic insights for Jumpstart Automotive Media.
“This year’s ad spots had a mix of brand alignments, emotion, nostalgia, and entertainment, but the brands that saw the most success were those that really showcased the vehicle’s performance,” Murad-Patel continued. “They did a fantastic job driving increased shopper interest among both in-market shoppers and car enthusiasts alike.”
Edmunds analysts tracked traffic to brand and model pages on both its desktop and mobile sites during the game to see which automotive ads were most successful in driving immediate shopper interest. Percentage lifts are compared to average Sunday traffic levels on Edmunds.
The ad for the Lexus LS proved most successful on the model side, with traffic up 1,080 percent to its pages on Edmunds during the game. Traffic to the Kia Stinger rose 1,052 percent during the game, and traffic to the Jeep Wrangler was up 93 percent.
Interest in these models drove these three automakers to victory on the brand side: Kia piqued the most curiosity, with traffic up 94 percent during the course of the game; Lexus was second at 43 percent; and Jeep was third with a 21-percent traffic lift.
“Blockbuster movie and celebrity tie-ins were a recipe for success in standing out from the competition and generating interest among car shoppers during the big game,” said Jessica Caldwell, executive director of industry analysis at Edmunds. “When the audience is tuning in for the biggest sporting spectacle of the year, it makes sense that the most action-packed and over-the-top advertisements would generate the most immediate results.”
Edmunds noticed results were a bit more muted for the Ram brand, which aired two spots promoting the new 1500. While cumulative shopper interest during the entire game for both the Ram brand and the 1500 were nominal, both ads did generate significant spikes in interest immediately after the ads ran. In particular, the Ram ad that featured a speech from Martin Luther King Jr. generated a 91-percent lift in shopper interest in Ram and a 148-percent lift in model traffic for the 1500 during the second quarter of the game.
“Regardless of where consumers stand on the Ram commercial controversy, the automaker did succeed in grabbing the attention of car shoppers — albeit for a brief period of time,” Caldwell said.
The analyst team at Cars.com noticed how Kia’s campaign worked nicely to drive activity on that site, too.
Within eight minutes of airing the Red Stinger featured in the Kia spot, visits to the advertised model’s page on Cars.com saw a 4,053-percent increase in comparison to the same time period prior to the airing of the spot.
The Lexus LS pages saw an overall spike in traffic, too — generating a 921 percent lift of visits. Other top performing brands and car models included: Jeep Wrangler with a 542-percent increase, Jeep Cherokee with a 175-percent increase, Toyota Tundra with a 142-percent increase, and RAM 1500 with a 69-percent increase.
As people tuned in all across the country, some of the top vehicles that caught consumers’ eyes in major cities based on Cars.com visits included:
— New York: Jeep Wrangler
— Los Angeles: Jeep Wrangler
— Chicago: Jeep Wrangler
— Philadelphia: Jeep Wrangler
— Dallas: Ford F-150
— San Francisco: Jeep Wrangler
— Washington, D.C.: Jeep Wrangler
— Houston: Ford F-150
— Boston: Jeep Wrangler
— Atlanta: Jeep Wrangler
“This year’s game saw the fewest number of car manufacturers advertising since before 2010. Despite this, Cars.com still saw a significant spike in site engagement during the game,” said David Greene, Cars.com data strategy manager.
“The themes of diversity and humanity were pervasive in all of the ads that aired, with only two ads overall featuring famous figures. Humor and animals were most notably missing from ads this year,” Greene continued.