For Your Consideration: A Last (?) Look at the Super Bowl Ads

By Charles Krome

I know it might seem a bit late to tackle the Super Bowl ads again, but there’s an interesting story about them in today’s Detroit Free Press that provides an inside look at the lengths to which some automakers go to get the most out of their efforts.

Here’s the deal according to journalist Chrissie Thompson: Almost as soon as the VW Passat/Star Wars ad hit the Internet (two days before the big game), it started to get people’s attention. And among those people were Joel Ewanick, GM’s global chief marketing officer, who has earned quite a reputation in the industry for his PR acumen. Ewanick apparently knew a good thing when he saw it, then showed exactly how he garnered that aforementioned rep. He had Chevy work a short-term deal with Google so that when folks searched certain intergalactically related terms—like “Darth Vader”—links to Chevrolet’s Super Bowl ads popped up at the top of the page. And then he did the same kind of thing with the phrase “Imported from Detroit” after the Chrysler 200/Eminem ad broke.

GM isn’t the only company employing this tactic, and it’s not even the only automaker doing so—the Freep story indicates VW itself did the same thing; although you have to wonder why Volkswagen didn’t snap up “Darth Vader” if that’s the case. Regardless it’s a cool insight into the business, and it’s proven to be effective, too.

In fact, some are saying it had a major impact on how successful Chevrolet’s ads were at increasing consideration for the brand’s products. Leveraging data from, the story also presents a list of the 10 automaker-related Super Bowl ads that increased consideration* levels most for the products they advertised:

The overall brand consideration increases had Chrysler getting the biggest jolt from its Super Bowl ads, followed by Kia, Hyundai, Suzuki, Volkswagen and then Chevrolet, in that order.

Personally, I’m not so sure all these statistics actually support the connection between Chevy’s Google-enhanced efforts and its increased consideration, but, based on the story, Ewanick seems to be a believer. (Also, this data compares consideration in the four days after the game with levels from the four weeks prior to kickoff.)

And here’s another little factoid to chew on: Of those commercials I just mentioned, only three of them—the two VW ads and the one for Chrysler—were among the top 10 best-liked spots overall from the game, according to the Nielsen figures, and none of them were among Nielsen’s top 10 “most-recalled” ads, a list that happened to include exactly zero commercials from any of the automakers.

*”Consideration shows whether consumers will give a brand or car a chance when it’s time for a new vehicle, and its impact can last at least nine months, Ewanick said.”

Author: Charles Krome

Charles Krome is a long-time automotive journalist who spent more than 10 years on the inside at General Motors and Ford, and also has corporate communications experience with Audi, Porsche and BASF Automotive Refinish. As a big motorsports fan growing up in the Detroit area, Krome was lucky enough to be able to attend numerous NASCAR, Indy car, F1 and SCCA events while still in his formative years. This, combined with a childhood that included significant (passenger) seat time in cars from Lotus and Jensen Healey, made him a car guy at an earlier age. Today, he lives in metro Detroit with his car wife, raising car kids.

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