Lexus Aims for Super Bowl Impact, While Other Car Brands Sit on the Sideline

Fewer automakers play in this year's Big Game

Headshot of Lauren Johnson

While some automakers are pulling back on Super Bowl ads this year, Lexus and agency Walton Isaacson have committed to making their second sppearance in the Big Game. 

This year's commercial for the Toyota-owned brand puts a noticeable emphasis on Lexus' cars while specifically highlighting the NX model. Its ad will run during the first half of the game and employs sounds that a vehicle makes such as a revved-up engine and a door closing.

Brian Bolain, corporate marketing manager at Lexus, told Variety that the automaker is returning to the Super Bowl because it "gives us a chance to talk to people who may not otherwise talk to the auto industry."

Pulling Back Spend

The Japanese company last ran a Super Bowl spot in 2012, when it promoted the 2013 Lexus GS by showing it breaking out of a box. The automaker's return to the Big Game is interesting since a number of automakers—including General Motors, Lincoln and Volkswagen—are sitting out of the huge TV event. Though Toyota, Nissan and Mercedes-Benz are among names planning to run ads this year.

Earlier this week, General Motors global CMO Tim Mahoney told a group attending Detroit's North American International Auto Show that his brand, which is known as a regular Super Bowl advertiser, will not advertise this year. His remarks confirmed speculation that the automaker would stay on the sideline.

According to Justin Hyde, managing editor of Yahoo Autos, one of the key reasons automotive brands are sitting out the game in 2015 is because they don't have new products to show off. Compared to other sectors, automakers tend to focus on specific car models versus general branding.

"If an automaker has an especially important new model coming in the next several months, getting into the Super Bowl makes a lot of sense," Hyde said. "The ones mentioned for the most part have a pause in their new model rollouts."

For example, Volkswagen's much-loved "The Force" spot in 2011 aligned with the launch of the Passat, as the marketer needed to shake up how consumers perceived the car.

Hyde also pointed out that although car brands historically pour a lot of money into marketing, the Super Bowl is a bit of a gamble when ads are pitted against each other on the world's biggest marketing stage.

"For every Volkswagen ad that they've produced in the past two years," he said, "there have been a lot of ads that have fallen off the radar pretty quickly."

For an updated roster of which advertisers are in and out for this year's Super Bowl, be sure to check out Adweek's Super Bowl Ad Tracker.

@laurenjohnson Lauren Johnson is a senior technology editor for Adweek, where she specializes in covering mobile, social platforms and emerging tech.
Publish date: January 14, 2015 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT