DETROIT – A year before Detroit plays host to football’s biggest game, two of Detroit's Big Three automakers are giving this week’s Super Bowl broadcast from Jacksonville, Fla., a big boost, spending millions to be a part of the only TV event where commercials can steal the show.
Sandwiched between the Ford Fox NFL Pregame Show and the Cadillac-sponsored post game wrap-up is a sporting event that is as much a marketing event as it is a game. Advertisers have the opportunity to reach more than 1 billion people worldwide.
In addition to sponsorships, Ford Motor Co. and General Motor Corp’s Cadillac division have purchased commercial time at a cost of nearly $5 million a minute. Honda Motor Co. bought two 30-second ads to promote its new Ridgeline pickup.
“There has never been a Super Bowl with three automakers running at least 60 seconds of ads," said University of Detroit Marketing Professor Michael Bernacchi. "This really is revving it up for the next Super Bowl."
Ford created two 60-second spots for the Feb. 6 game: a pregame ad for its pickups and one touting the new Mustang convertible that might run in the first half.
Ford isn’t revealing the visual punch line of the Mustang ad, but it’s based on the dark 1996 comedy "Fargo." It features a convertible with the top down at a snowy intersection. When a police officer goes to check on the driver after the car doesn't move at a green light, the ad implies the driver enjoys his Mustang so much, he'll take it out in frigid weather.
"To be memorable among the other Super Bowl ads, we knew we had to be very, very interesting with some unexpected twist," said Ford Division General Marketing Manager Marty Collins. "We shot the Mustang convertible spot up in a northern location on a day when the temperature was zero and the wind chill was 50 below."
With at least six different car commercials running during the game, each company is hoping to make its ad stand out. Lincoln claims the ad for its new Mark LT pickup will be "edgy," while Volvo promises a spot that's one-of-a-kind.
Chrysler has chosen to sit out this year's fray. "It's a great medium to use if you're looking for awareness," said Chrysler spokeswoman Suraya Dasante. "The products that we've got out right now, they're not really hurting for awareness."
At CadillacUnder5.com Web site, consumers are invited to submit five-second films for a national contest. The contest is linked to a series of ads that Cadillac has been running during the NFL playoffs. The ads, which also will air during and after the Super Bowl, hype three Cadillacs that can accelerate to 60 mph in less than five seconds. Cadillac has created a 60-second commercial to run in the second quarter. Cadillac will also provide 400 vehicles to shuttle NFL officials and important visitors in Jacksonville.