Chrysler Back in the Super Bowl Lineup

CBS has landed an American automotive sponsor for its broadcast of Super Bowl XLIV, in a deal that brings Chrysler back into the big game for the first time in six years.

Per terms of the deal, Chrysler will showcase its Dodge brand in a 60-second spot set to run in the first half of the Feb. 7 NFL championship game. While financial terms were not disclosed, TNS Media Research estimates put the cost of a 30-second spot between $2.5 million and $2.8 million.

The spot is being prepped by Wieden + Kennedy, which picked up the Dodge account in December.

Chrysler’s investment marks a significant milestone for the automaker, as it will be the only member of the Big Three to buy time in this year’s Super Bowl. Last year, the entire U.S. auto industry stayed on the sidelines, and Ford and General Motors have indicated that they would once again skip the annual marketing extravaganza.

The buy comes six months after Chrysler emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and the automaker hopes to use the time to let Americans know that it is back in business. Since coming back from the brink of extinction, Chrysler has radically overhauled its marketing strategy, cutting ties with longtime agency BBDO and assigning each of its four nameplates to a different shop.

Per Nielsen, Dodge in 2008 spent $460 million on measured media, and $170 million through the first three quarters of 2009.

Earlier this week, Volkswagen announced it too was jumping back into the Super Bowl pool, buying its first :30 in nine years. The VW spot will air in the third quarter and reboots the German carmaker’s two-year-old “Das Auto” brand campaign. As the company steers its messaging in a new direction, it leaves behind Max the Beetle, the spokesvehicle that helped establish the campaign.

Immediately following the Super Bowl, Volkswagen will kick off a multifaceted campaign in support of a national sales push, one that underscores the brand’s playful side. The media plan will incorporate broadcast and cable TV, online, radio, print and out-of-home.

Volkswagen’s Super Bowl spot was developed by the automaker’s new creative agency, Interpublic’s Deutsch LA.

If domestic auto continues to be underrepresented in this year’s Super Bowl, foreign manufacturers are flooding the zone, as Audi, Honda, Hyundai and Kia Motors are also suiting up for the game. Audi has bought a single fourth quarter :60, marking the third consecutive time the automaker will be featured in the Super Bowl after what had been a hiatus of nearly 20 years.

Honda is in for a second-half :30, Hyundai’s down for two in-game (one in the second quarter and another in the third) and three pre-game ads, and Kia will introduce its 2011 Sorento crossover in a third-quarter spot.

NBC lined up three auto clients for last year’s game (VW, Toyota and Hyundai), marking the category’s lightest investment since 2000. Per TNS, auto dollars accounted for 9 percent of the $213 million in total ad sales revenue NBC booked for Super Bowl XLIII.