Exclusive: Auto Blitzes Fox’s Super Bowl

Fox’s Super Bowl broadcast will feature no fewer than 20 automotive spots, accounting for nearly one-third of the event’s 63 total avails, in an unprecedented show of support from the auto category, according to multiple sources.

And while this may not come as a total surprise, given the strength of the category and the tremendous demand for NFL inventory, this year’s load of car and truck ads far surpasses that of any previous Super Bowl. Even the dot-com debacle of 2000 doesn’t compare; while it may have seemed like more at the time, only a dozen Internet companies threw down for a slice of time in ABC’s broadcast of Super Bowl XXXIV––a 20 percent share of the 61 spots available at the time.

There’s no telling which two NFL franchises will find themselves in Dallas on Super Bowl Sunday; perhaps we’ll see flaxen-haired Uggs spokesmodel Tom Brady and the New England Patriots squaring off against Philadelphia’s Dog Whisperer, or we may be treated to the spectacle of the merrily profane Rex Ryan leading his New York Jets into battle against their fellow Jersey time-shares Eli Manning and the Giants. But no matter who shows up in the Big D on Feb. 6, it’s safe to say that the 100 million-plus Americans tuning in to Fox for Super Bowl XLV will bear witness to something unprecedented.

Fox’s auto inventory is particularly impressive when one stops to consider that only six car clients suited up for Super Bowl XLIV (CBS), double what NBC was able to round up for its presentation of Super Bowl XLIII. Leading the way are some returning favorites, a longtime holdout and one luxury marque that is coming into the big game for the first time in its 45-year history.

After a three-year absence, General Motors is back in a big way, having ponied up for as many as six spots in support of Chevrolet. GM joins Ford and Chrysler in what will mark the first time the Big Three have turned out for a Super Bowl in nearly a decade; Chrysler hopped back in last year for the first time since 2004, while Ford dropped out last year to focus on digital spending.

Super Bowl XLV is Mercedes-Benz’s first trip to the big show. The automaker’s 60-second spot, from Merkley + Partners in New York, is a brand-image ad that will run in the fourth quarter, said Steve Cannon, vp of marketing at Mercedes-Benz USA in Montvale, N.J. The 2011 splash will come as the automaker celebrates its 125th anniversary and prepares for launches involving its SLK, C-Class, M-Class and CLS models.

“We’ve got our first-time ever Super Bowl [buy] intersecting with our 125th anniversary [and the launch of] four gorgeous models next year,” Cannon said. “That kind of connection made the Super Bowl a really relevant platform for us.”

Making its first Super Bowl appearance since the dawn of the century, BMW is in for a couple of spots. The German automaker is leveraging the NFL championship game as a platform for a number of 2011 launches, which include the new 6 Series coupe and convertible, the 2011 X3 SUV and the 5 Series sedan.

BMW did not offer any detailed information about its Super Sunday lineup, although all creative will be steered by MDC Partners’ Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal & Partners. The carmaker may pull an end-around and feature its upcoming electric model, the ActiveE, which rolls out in summer 2011.
Another luxury brand is driving into Super Bowl XLV, as Audi of America returns for its fourth consecutive season finale. Created by Venables Bell & Partners of San Francisco, Audi’s 60-second spot will air in the first quarter, in the third position of the first break following the opening kickoff.  

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