Touchdown for Super Bowl Automotive Ads? [2012 Edition]

Chevy Super Bowl Ad

Image from: ABC News

The 2012 Super Bowl has come and gone and as typical the game’s ads seemed to get as much attention as the game itself, fueled by executives touting their companies’ presence and ad snippets “leaked” in advance.  Again in 2012, many advertisers were automakers.  Compete compared un-aided ad recollection with changes in in-market automotive shopper volume to inform whether these ads were productive in driving near-term new vehicle demand.  [This analysis compliments Compete’s earlier week-by-week assessment of changes in consumer behavior.]

First Down: Recollection

Clint EastwoodCompete asked 644 online consumers which auto brand first came to mind when thinking about the 2012 Super Bowl.  Respondents could choose any brand.  Of those that watched the game, one in five recalled seeing a Chevrolet ad; Chevrolet was #1 in 2011 as well (see 2011 analysis).  Chrysler’s change from Eminem to Clint Eastwood preserved its #2 rank.  Ford and Volkswagen changed spots for 2012; VW’s reveal of its famous Darth Vader spot in 2011 (11% recollection) was evidently more memorable than 2012’s follow-up (8%).  Ford did not advertise in 2012 but was referenced in Chevrolet’s Apocalypse spot and related fall-out.

Leading Auto Brand Recalled from 2012 Super Bowl Ads

Second Down: Changes in Recollection

Some brands returned to Super Bowl advertising in 2012 to recapture 2011 glory, while others were new.  Some built on last year’s themes; some tried something new.  There was no one successful formula as Chrysler, Acura and Honda had the greatest y-o-y gains in recollection.  Chrysler’s Clint Eastwood spot built on the theme of its 2011 ads.  Acura’s use of Jerry Seinfeld and a Jay Leno cameo was new for 2012.  Honda tried something new with the cute and quirky CR-V spot.

Change in Recollection Share Among Most-Recalled 2012 Brands

Third Down: Changes in Recollection vs. Changes in SMI

To connect stated recollection and actions, Compete compared 2012 top-10 ad recollection with m-o-m changes in those brands’ Share of Market Interest (SMI).  SMI represents the share of all in-market shoppers market-wide that shopped a brand.  Those calculations leverage Compete’s patented data and normalization process and are based on consumers actively engaged with specific vehicles.  Results avoid false positives associated with double-counting consumers.  A positive correlation suggests that recollection directly influences in-market shopper activity.

While recollection levels were generally similar 2012 vs. 2011, resulting consumer behaviors were not.  In 2011, greater recollection generally resulted in a greater SMI.  In 2012, the opposite was true and the highest recollection levels did not guarantee higher SMI gains.  Arguably Hyundai did the best in that its SMI was the greatest relative to its recollection.

Top 10 Ad Recollection Brands vs. Change in Share of Market Interest (SMI)

Fourth Down: The Rest of the Story

Football is a dynamic game year to year and the ability of Super Bowl ads to drive behavior looks to be as well.  But before we write off Super Bowl ads as unproductive, more investigation is warranted:

  • Determine the Super Bowl’s automotive share of voice in February 2012 vs. 2011 (i.e., it’s share of all automotive ad spend in the month) and the total number of automotive ads vying  for consumers’ attention (i.e., clutter)
    • Auto advertising in 2012 is up notably over 2011 levels; as such 2012 Super Bowl ad spend may have had a smaller share of the total
  • Identify each brand’s share of ad spend allocated to the Super Bowl
    • For example, Honda’s total February ad spend may have been significant given overall support for the CR-V launch
  • Quantify non-immediate impacts of Super Bowl ads
    • Latency can be quantified by more efficient ads in the months after the game vs. before, measuring efficiency as cost per shopper
  • Reveal the impacts of ancillary exposures to Super Bowl ads, such as views on YouTube or Likes on Facebook as SMI changed.   For example, Acura’s Seinfeld NSX ad had 18 millions views at the time this analysis was completed
  • Determine the magnitude of any spill-over impacts, such as whether Chevrolet’s mention of Ford in its ads actually drove shopping of Fords.
About Lincoln Merrihew:
Lincoln Merrihew is the Vice President of Transportation at Millward Brown Digital. At Millward Brown Digital, Lincoln is responsible for steering the Transportation Team, which encompasses the automotive and travel practices. Before Lincoln joined the Millward Brown Digital team, he worked at TNS Custom leading the Automotive team, and then continued on there to lead business development for 10 different industry verticals. Lincoln's career aspiration is to create game-changing solutions and insights. Connect with Lincoln on LinkedIn.