Big 3 Sitting Out Super Bowl

Press and News

For years, General Motors Corp. has been one of the biggest sponsors of the National Football League. But during Super Bowl XLIII this Sunday, Audi, Toyota and Hyundai will air splashy, multi-million dollar ads while GM and Detroit’s other automakers sit out the big game.

It’s the first time in eight years that none of Detroit’s Big Three have had an ad in the game, according to Advertising Age. Other reports suggest that the game will be void of any commercials from a Michigan-based company.

“The Super Bowl is, well, the Super Bowl of advertising. Its long-term members are business icons — cars, beer, pop,” said Robert Kolt, a Michigan State University advertising professor and CEO of Kolt Communications in Okemos. “To have the ultimate American game with commercials of foreign car companies but not the Big Three, it’s sad, really.”

GM has spent more than $77 million on Super Bowl ads during the past 15 years, Kolt estimates.

GM decided to opt out this year because it doesn’t “have a major vehicle launch that aligned with the event,” said GM spokeswoman Kelly Cusinato. She also cited cost-cutting measures.

GM still will have a presence at the game, she notes. The automaker is one of the NFL’s 22 corporate sponsors, and Cadillac sponsors the post-game show and MVP award.

Ford Motor Co. last ran a Super Bowl ad in 2006, when the spectacle was played in Ford Field. Chrysler LLC last ran its most recent Super Bowl ad in 2007.

“You can have ads in and around the game but it’s not the same,” Kolt said. “A big chunk of the audience now watches the game just for the commercials.”

For about $3 million, a company can nab the Super Bowl million for about 30 to 60 seconds. But while Detroit doesn’t seem to have that kind of cash to throw around these days, a few foreign carmakers are springing for the pricey TV spots.

Audi will showcase its AG sedan with a 60-second ad featuring actor Jason Statham. Hyundai has two 30-second spots. One promotes its Genesis sedan, which was recently awarded the 2009 North American Car of the Year. Hyundai will have ads highlighting a new policy where customers can return a new or leased vehicle if they lose their job within a year of purchase. And industry sales leader Toyota will air a 30-second spot to launch its new Venza crossover — giving at least one carmaker a Super Bowl kick-off.

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