American Marketer


Mercedes-Benz sees 3,107pc search increase from Super Bowl ad

February 3, 2015

Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel in BMW Super Bowl ad Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel in BMW Super Bowl ad


Luxury automakers often hesitate to advertise in mass market situations, but the search results on auto sites increased drastically for many of the luxury vehicles present in Super Bowl ads.

There was a drop in luxury automaker advertising at the game this year with only Lexus, BMW and Mercedes-Benz present. However, the search engine results on Kelley Blue Book and demonstrated the interest among the mass-market population.

"Those results confirmed that a well placed advertisement and an effective ad can elevate not just a brand, but a given model, which is always a challenge for luxury brands,” said Karl Brauer, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book, Irvine, CA.

“You could argue that breaking through to the general public and expanding awareness is where you get an opportunity for any company especially high premium ones,” he said.

Super advertisers
Mercedes-Benz USA competed in the annual advertising war that surrounds Super Bowl Sunday Feb. 1 with a twist on a classic story.

“Fable” is a 60-second commercial that places a spin on the tortoise and the hare race. With 30-second ads costing $4.5 million this year, Mercedes-Benz spent big to try and resonate among the estimated 114 million fans who watched the big game (see story).

Mercedes-Benz Super Bowl ad

Mercedes’ commercial aired toward the end of the programming but brought results. The AMG’s ad saw a 3,107 percent search increase on AutoTrader and 950 percent escalation on Kelley Blue Book.

The AMG is not one of the brand’s lower leveled cars, an unusual pick for the Super Bowl, but the twist on a classic story grabbed the attention of viewers and drove awareness to the Mercedes-Benz name.

“Two years ago, Mercedes-Benz advertised an upcoming model – a $29,000 CLA – clearly aimed at younger buyers,” said Michelle Krebs, senior analyst at, Atlanta, GA. “Shopping for that car went through the roof on all third-party shopping sites and the vehicle wasn’t even on sale.

“This year, Mercedes focused on the opposite end of the price spectrum – on its expensive and high-performance AMG GT S. The ad gained the highest percentage increase of shopping on AutoTrader at 3,107 percent but also on a small base.”

Mercedes followed up its ad with an interview with the winner. Former NFL player Jerry Rice conducts the phone interview with the tortoise asking him about the race.

Follow-up interview

Toyota Corp.’s Lexus used fashion inspirations to draw attention from younger Super Bowl and automobile enthusiasts in its new television commercial.

“Make Some Noise” is a collaboration between several fashion industry experts to change the way Lexus advertises to consumers (see story).

Lexus’ NX saw mild increases compared to the other commercial the brand released for the RC 350. On Kelley Blue Book the RC 350 witnessed a 1,820 percent increase and on AutoTrader it saw a 2,069 percent escalation.

“Lexus, for instance, has an aging buyer base,” Ms. Krebs said. “Lexus enjoyed phenomenal growth thanks to baby boomers who wanted an alternative to American and German luxury cars. But that buyer base is aging and, frankly, dying off.

“If Lexus is to have a future, it has focus on relevance to a younger buyer," she said "As a result, Lexus is spending marketing dollars and focusing product development on vehicles that appeal to a younger audience. Performance, in addition, is appealing to a younger buyer so Lexus’ Super Bowl ads focused on fun and performance. Youthfulness was suggested with its ad for the RC350 performance car surrounded by toy sports cars.”

German automaker BMW compared its new electronic car to the creation of the Internet with a humorous commercial that aired during Super Bowl.

The brand released the video on YouTube along with outtake footage, a behind-the-scenes look and two short teasers. Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel star in the ad, which recreates a clip of the two journalists discussing the Internet on NBC’s Today Show back in 1994 (see story).

BMW Super Bowl ad

BMW’s ad was shown in the beginning of the game and seemed to resonate with viewers as the i3 witnessed an upsurge of 1,131 percent on Kelley Blue Book and 433 percent increase on AutoTrader.

AutoTrader looked at the site search activity one hour after each commercial aired and compared it to the search one hour prior to the game. Kelley Blue Book used a similar method by comparing the searches one hour after the advertisement ran to the hour before it aired.

Last year there was a greater presence of luxury automakers, with Audi and Jaguar missing from the group this time. At 2014’s Super Bowl, Audi of America extended its Super Bowl legacy through slapstick, while British automaker Jaguar entered new territory with a facetious spot (see story).

Many of these automakers added a hashtag to their commercial to generate social media responses from fans.

For instance, Mercedes’ used #TheBigRace and Lexus used #LexusNX to direct social conversations.

Super day

Other industries looked to enter into the biggest day of television with packages and appearances at the game.

For example, private aviation company Magellan Jets appealed to Seattle Sea Hawks and New England Patriots fans with an exclusive VIP Super Bowl package.

Football fanatics were able to fly to Arizona and take part in all the events before, during and after the game. Magellan Jets will likely score some points with guests by making a special occasion, like the Super Bowl Feb. 1, even more memorable with exclusive opportunities and accommodations (see story).

Also, though not generally associated with the Super Bowl in consumers’ minds, jewelers and fashion brands sought to make their presence at the game known through social media.

Both Moschino and Tiffany & Co. were responsible for key aspects of the football game Feb. 1, using their skills to contribute to the celebration. Publicizing their efforts surrounding the game could help make these brands part of the discussion following the event (see story).

Being involved with the Super Bowl has become a vital part of brands' television actions each year.

“[There is nothing] like the Super Bowl,” Mr. Brauer said.

“The Super Bowl really does cross all these kind of boundaries and breaks out the commercial viewing habits people have, which is to avoid the commercials,” he said. “The Super Bowl has managed to build this following to specifically watch the commercials.

"It is a very unique event and drives an unrivaled level of shopping behavior across all industries, especially automotive.”

Final Take
Nancy Buckley, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York