People tune into the Super Bowl for all sorts of reasons.
For some, it’s all about the big game itself. For others, it’s the extravagant halftime show.
But one thing that gets everyone hyped on Super Bowl Sunday is the commercials. This is the day brands break the bank and go all out.
According to AdAge, 30 seconds of airtime during this year’s game cost $5.6 million. While this seems like a ridiculous amount of money – and it is – this is a price companies were more than happy to pay.
One industry usually well-represented in Super Bowl commercials is the automobile industry. This year was no exception, as millions of screens across the world were plastered with funny, nostalgic, and inspirational auto commercials.
But you have to wonder, did automakers take full advantage of their airtime?
It’s one thing for the commercials to be entertaining – most usually are – but are they also informative? Are automakers listening to what their customers want and appealing to these needs?
Using our Automobile Report as a guide, we examined the commercials of three major automakers to find out.
Hyundai gets ‘smaht’
With the help of Chris Evans, Rachel Dratch, and John Krasinski, Hyundai used its Super Bowl airtime to plug its new Smart Park self-parking system. While these Bostonites laid the love on a little thick (and we’re not just talking about their accents), the move by Hyundai was wicked “smaht.”
Customers care about in-car technology, and the automobile industry is not meeting their high standards.
According to our report, satisfaction with technology is down 3% year over year and is toward the bottom of all industry benchmarks – tied with warranties for second-to-last place – with a score of 78.
Hyundai, for its part, also has room for improvement in this area. It scores above industry average, but compared to individual automakers, it’s merely middle of the road. By drawing attention to the new Sonata’s “Smaht Pahk” capability, Hyundai shows it understands customer needs and that it’s making a concerted effort to meet them. Like we said: smaht.
Toyota has room for all heroes
Cobie Smulders of “How I Met Your Mother” and “Avengers” fame is a super mom speeding around rescuing selfless superheroes who chose to stay behind after saving others from various catastrophes.
How does she save these heroic individuals? She picks them up in her roomy Toyota Highlander.
Interior design isn’t on the bottom rung of industry benchmarks, but it falls 1.2% over the past year to 82. Toyota scores just above average, so it too has plenty of room (pun intended) for growth.
Toyota uses alien attacks, chemical disasters, and a wild west showdown as backdrops to point out a simple fact that most car owners can agree on: Space matters. Bonus points for the final shot on the dashboard navigation screen. As we mentioned, customers crave enhanced technology.
Jeep shows there’s nothing mundane about ‘Groundhog Day’
Unlike in the cinematic classic, Bill Murray didn’t go down a rabbit hole of despair in Jeep’s commercial reenactment of “Groundhog Day.” This time, he had a Jeep Gladiator at his disposal.
Although driving performance (tied for first at 84) and exterior (82) rank highly among customer experience benchmarks, Fiat Chrysler’s Jeep struggles to keep up with the competition. The automaker falls below industry average in both areas.
With a commercial featuring Murray and Punxsutawney Phil tackling tough terrains in a sleek Gladiator, Jeep shows this vehicle is easy on the eyes and can handle any adventure life throws at you. Not only that, you look forward to it.
This ad played well with the press. Jeep can only hope it has the same effect on its customer base.
Commercials can offer more than just commercial appeal
As entertaining as these ads can be, remember that commercials and customer satisfaction are not the same thing.
Super Bowl commercials aren’t going to be successful if they’re not creative and memorable. But that doesn’t mean automakers should skip out on a golden opportunity to show they’re paying attention to things their customers want.
Customer satisfaction in the automobile industry fell 3.7% to a score of 79 over the last year. If automakers want to see those scores climb, they might want to take a page out of playbook of the companies tailoring their message to what’s really driving their customers.