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For automakers, Super Bowl ad brawl has already begun

The hype has begun. Super Bowl XLVII is less than a week away, but the mega-million-buck auto ad brawl is already underway as three of the eight deep-pocket car advertisers pre-launch their new commercials to NFL fans. The reason? Economics. And a numbers game.

At between $2.4 million and $4 million per 30-second commercial,  this amounts to a huge expenditure for just one airing. But there’s an even bigger number, with more than 115 million Americans predicted to watch the game Feb. 3.

Until recently, Super Bowl advertising has been nothing more than putting up the game-day spot and hoping, maybe, that it will trigger some Monday-morning quarterbacking around the water cooler — with polls and research adding some arguable, additional value. That was then. 

What’s become apparent is that a fairly large percentage of viewers are more interested in the commercials than the game itself. So, how to take advantage of that and extend the payback beyond just a game-day airing that is over in 30 seconds, whether a viewer was sitting in front of the TV or off grabbing something from the refrigerator?

Now, with the various social media, like Facebook and Twitter as well as YouTube, along with special contests, promotions and PR hype, the shelf life for a good commercial can be dramatically extended to weeks, even months, resulting in additional views extending well into the millions – even among consumers who – gasp – might not have tuned in on Super Bowl Sunday.

Result? The return on investment is as measurable as any ad investment might be.  And, of course, makers get to battle it out all over for bragging rights as to who was number one.

“(An) early release extends the life of the commercial, builds consumer interest, and most importantly brings early customers into our dealers," said Steve Shannon, vice president of marketing at Hyundai Motor America.

The latter reason, arguably, is the most important for buying the commercial in the first place. With that in mind, here are the early commercial entries into this year’s auto ad brawl: 

Mercedes-Benz
During the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Bernie Glaser, vice president of marketing for Mercedes-Benz, said the company has an enviable role in XLVII. The game will be played in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The ad plan was to pre-release a teaser, but in fact two advance spots were released earlier this week. One sexy little tease spotlighted actress Kate Upton and has already received over 3.4 million hits on YouTube – but also generated a fury of  negative comments from critics for being overly sexy. The other is a cinematic mystery tease of what is coming Feb. 3, shot in the Big Easy with some great music.

Hyundai
Like every NFL game, it all begins with the coin toss, and in Super Bowl XLVII, Hyundai has the primo commercial position – a 60-second spot for the new seven-passenger Santa Fe prior to the heads-or-tails call. Check out the not-so-sneak preview.

There are two in game spots, including another for Santa Fe and one for the turbo Sonata. Hyundai also has bought a couple pre-game ads – featuring the Genesis R-Spec and Santa Fe. Obviously, the new family-size SUV is getting the most play. The six commercials pre-game and during the game makes Hyundai the biggest car-vertiser in the big show. 

Audi
More than a tease, the rising luxury car marquee is asking consumers to vote for the favorite end of their sixth Super Bowl commercial. Viewers of the commercial on YouTube were given 24 hours to pick their favorite from three possibilities. The most popular will be added in post-production and will air in advance of the game -- and in the enviable commercial position of the first break after kick-off. 

Lincoln Motor Company and Chevrolet
The newest entry in the auto ad brawl in Super Bowl XLVII is the reborn, revitalized, redesigned, re-engineered Lincoln brand from the renamed Lincoln Motor Company. All previous car companies except Chevrolet have re-upped. Chevy is instead involved in the half-time show with Beyonce. As TheDetroitBureau.com previously reported, the pop phenom is expected to receive a new 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, a special version of the C7 built just for her.