Back in 2005, I was responsible for launching the Dodge Magnum, Monkey spot on the Super Bowl.

It was not our best effort and as I have mentioned in a previous post, it was not even the one we wanted to run but management issues, legal issues and edits by committee tend to muck up the works. And when you run an ad on the big game, EVERYONE wants to have their mark on the spot and it made it less than interesting: the kiss of death on the Super Bowl. 

My standards for standing out are pretty high, though (To wit: I was also responsible for the Lingerie Bowl halftime sponsorship debacle -- online and offline -- during the 2003 SB. We ended up getting out of it and the whole thing was -- thankfully -- overshadowed by Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction). Still, even 5 years ago, we did online roadblocks of all of the major online portals (AOL was sponsoring the halftime show). We also made a big deal of highlighting the website to get people to it for the coveted lead generation opportunity but also to improve perceptions among those going online to check out the ads from the game just one more time.

This is not rocket science, nor was it necessarily revolutionary, but it did help us to justify the spend. We had goals of generating leads and visits as a result of our spend and we knew that the online effort would be the only way we could begin to quantify the effort. Today, there are several other better and more efficient ways to measure success. Last night though, at least in auto land, only one company really brought it.

ListenLogic, a social listening company, forwarded me their analysis of the auto ads from the big game. They "listened" to a sample of about 12,000 people last night on the top 10 social and blogging sites and did a great job of highlighting the pre- and post- game expectations and perceptions of the auto ads in general and for the auto ads individually. I have included their analysis here beneath each ad (Note: a quick color guide for the slides show green as positive, beige as neutral and red as negative). Overall, I think it was a good day for the auto ad industry!

The Unconventional spend

Subaru went a different route when they decided to own the Dogs 101 on Saturday and the Puppy Bowl on Sunday. The Puppy Bowl can only be described as painful. The puppies were cute, but an hour of watching them lick themselves and play with other dogs was a lot to expect from an audience. While I applaud the multi-media integrated effort set around the time of the Super Bowl (while not actually on it), it's a bit narrow in its focus.

First ad: Hyundai, Assembly line / paint.

Message: Paint quality that is better than Mercedes...Think About It....snooooz. To make it worse, this ad was stuck between the Doritos dog collar ad and the Boost ad that showcased the '85 Bears rap redo, which made Hyundai's completely forgettable. There was no real social or online call to action, nor was there much visualization of the brand for the average viewer. I went to site right after viewing the spot and there was nothing indicating that they had run a spot in the game. I even typed in "Super Bowl" in the search box on the Hyundai site and it showed "no results". However, on the Twitter-sphere, there was a ton of re-tweeting of Twitter spam stating: "Stand Out Spots" which included Hyundai.
Score: C-

Second ad: Hyundai Brett Favre, 2020 Super Bowl

Will he retire or won't he? You never know if you can count on Brett to be true to his word but you CAN count on Hyundai to last for the next 10 years. This is great on many levels. It leverages what has arguably been Hyundai's best and most consistent message, leveraging dependability dating back to last year's Super Bowl when they launched the Assurance program. It also had all of the elements Super Bowl fans love...entertainment, fun and the self-depreciating humor of one of the game's most famous personalities. I found out through the Twittersphere that all of the Hyundai ads were on their Facebook page. Still, I wish they would have offered some sort of clever online tie in.
Score: A-

Third ad: Dodge Charger / Man's Last Stand

I was really ready to hate this given the poor state of the ads coming out of Chrysler the past few months and the fact that they were advertising a car that has been around for a few years.

But, it was better than I thought it would be. The "Man's Last Stand" wasn't necessarily laugh-out-loud funny but it was a "smile" ad (the use of Dexter's Michael C. Hall as the voiceover talent helped, too), and it was on brand.

It was however, too long... a :30 second spot would have done just as well. Showcasing a series of brain-dead-looking men staring deadpan into the camera while the voiceover talked of the emasculating tasks men do (such as holding their girlfriend's lip balm and suffering through their vampire TV shows), the guys finally roared and cheered when the Charger came on screen and the tag line of "Mans Last Stand" came on.

However, the reports coming in say most were bored by it and many others just don't like Dodge. Women seemed, on the whole, to like the ad better than the men did. Their website did offer you links to watch the spot but it should be noted that Dodge missed out on a lot of passalong by not releasing the spots early as others did.

By the way, the "spineless man" thing was a big topic this year. There was a spineless guy for the mini TV (flo TV?), the Dove ad and the Dodge ad.

Spending money to remind people you are still in business is a great thing but the product is not very new, though it is arguably one of the best cars they are making. Was this particular ad worth the $5 million or so (it was a :60, remember)? I don't think so, but it was a decent attempt.
Score: B+ (the plus may be my history coming out..I want them to do well)

Fourth ad: VW / Punch bug

This was my most anticipated auto ad and it did NOT disappoint! Fun, fun, fun. It brought back memories and introduced the concept to a whole new generation. Loved it.

It was in keeping with the brand, leveraged the iconography that is the best of the brand and showcased the whole's not just for the Bug anymore! And the Stevie Wonder element was fantastic.

Better yet, when I went to the site, the SB ad started playing and they asked me if I wanted to play the PunchDub game. They made it fun and engaging with all different types of punches on any model of VW out there.

So, it is teaching me about the models while I am playing a game AND I can win a 6 month lease on a new VW. They ask me to spread the word via Facebook and Twitter and offer ways to calculate my punches on Twitter, Facebook etc. Punch tallies run as a ticker on the top of the page...this is a great connection to the online world and one that I think will really prove to be a success for them.
Score: A

Fifth ad: Kia Sorrento / Sock Monkey

I am having a hard time being objective here only because I think sock monkies are the creepiest toys! As for the ad, I guess I would call it creative. The Twitterati are liking it but I am not sure I really understood what they were trying to tell me about the Sorrento with this ad, beyond the idea that I can party like a sock monkey (and his plush pals) at night and then hang with the family as a plush toy with my buddies during the day.

It had a lot of potential, though, and the more I watched it (YouTube) the more I liked the idea of the car being a big toy. The friends of the sock monkey and their fun road trip kept me going but it really was a letdown at the end...I just wanted more.

As for the Kia website...nada. Not even a search box to try to find a connection to the ad. This is a missed opportunity as there are a million obvious ways to use the toys on the website and to keep people chattering about it, but I did not see the online effort.
Score: B

Sixth ad: Honda Crosstour

Honda is using the Super Bowl to launch a new vehicle, which makes perfect sense. The ad was a bit odd though visually arresting, showing an animated squirrel pushing furniture around.

Bob Garfield at Ad Age described its benefits best: "The new Honda Crosstour crossover is multifaceted, in its function and its sheet metal. It also has a lot of storage space, hence the metaphor of a squirrel stuffing objects into a tree trunk. The visual gimmick, though, is striking animation that cuts facets into each object as if it were a gemstone."

It is a great description of what we were supposed to see but I am not sure the majority of people watching got that much from it. Honda also promoted their Facebook page, which I give them extra credit for doing, but the page didn't take me much deeper into the Honda experience. It's not enough to just have a page: It has to be good.

Furthermore, their website had zero recognition of the ad. But, the company is planning on featuring the ad online on the homepages of YouTube, Fox Sports and MSN. So, some kudos for the extension but it's not nearly as engaging in the online world as I would have expected from them.
Score: B-

Seventh ad: Audi / The Green Police

Loved it. It was nostalgic with the Cheap Trick music and very poignant with the differentiating green factor.

Whether you are a "greenie" or not, you had to appreciate the zealous nature of the spot that made fun of the green movement while making the point of the positive benefits of the car itself.

As for the website, it did feature the A3 TDI and its green award but that was about it. I was crazily hoping that since VW did such a good job with their online connection that their more sophisticated big sister Audi would as well...but no.

Still, they did announce a more socially oriented connection with this is a quote: "Both the ad and the social media elements will introduce the Green Police, an enforcement team created to protect and conserve the environment. In appropriate Super Bowl satirical fashion, the Green Police will produce "Public Service Announcements" designed to advise consumers on ways that they can make better choices to protect the environment. Fans can also take part in a Green Police quiz, designed to help the public understand the right choices when making complex decisions each day in order to become better global citizens."
Score: A-

Eighth ad: Hyundai / Birmingham, AL on Quality

This was a decent ad and well done but not really Super Bowl worthy. It was better than the paint version, though, in that it was more interesting and the story had a human element.
Score: C+

So, how much value did the automakers get out of these ads? calculated the Tweets per Super Bowl ad and also the cost per tweet per ad. For autos, Audi won with the most efficient cost per tweet at $543 per tweet. The worst was Dodge at $4428 per tweet. They were crushed by running a :60, which doubled the cost.

As for the winner, I give it to VW. As a company, VW and Audi really did a terrific job. Not only did they stand out in the auto crowd, they also held their own amongst the big dogs of AB and Doritos (who were disappointing overall).

This is a subjective conversation, to be sure, but it won't stay that way for long. The best barometer of success is always the cash register.

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