Exodus of Auto Brands From Super Bowl XLIX Makes Room For First-Time Advertisers

Carnival, Skittles, and other Super Bowl ad rookies fill gaps left by auto brands.

Consumer Goods

Super Bowl XLIX will feature ads from auto brands like BMW, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Nissan and Kia. But, notably, other longtime Super Bowl advertisers from the auto industry have benched themselves this year. And, in their place, the game will include its first-ever produce, adhesive, and toenail fungus advertisers, among others.

Most of new brands advertising in the Super Bowl point to reach, pure and simple, as their motivation behind the big spend, but experts still question whether this one-time event offers the best bang for their advertising buck.

In fact, likening it to the Sherlock Holmes story about the dog that didn’t bark, Greg Jarboe, president of internet marketing services firm SEO-PR, says, “The dog not barking at the Super Bowl this year is that Volkswagen is not advertising even after having the top ad a few years ago, which was followed by Audi, who is not advertising. GM pulled out. Ford pulled out. About half a dozen automakers who advertised in last year’s Super Bowl aren’t advertising in it this year.”

This, he notes, has paved the way for new advertisers.

“The key question is: Did [all of the auto brands] go to the same webinar?” Jarboe said. “What happened?”

He points to experts who have questioned the wisdom of spending millions of dollars on TV time “when that budget would be gangbusters with an online video campaign instead.”

Further, he surmises that some auto brands may have simply realized they could spend $4.5 million on regional advertising or playoff game advertising that might offer a better bang for their buck or even move a significant percentage of money into digital advertising, including video, he said.

Nevertheless, plenty of Super Bowl advertisers remain. Here’s a look at some of the brands stepping onto the field for the first time this Sunday.

Avocados from Mexico

Avocados from Mexico, the marketing arm of Mexican Hass Avocado Importers Association, released a teaser of its #FirstDraftEver featuring former football players Jerry Rice and Doug Flutie, and a rhinoceros.

Avocados From Mexico says it will be the first fresh produce brand to broadcast an ad during Super Bowl.

In addition, the brand has partnered with TV host Mario Lopez and his wife on a so-called communications program, “No Guac, No Game,” to “illustrate how great-tasting guacamole is one way to unite a divided house of passionate sports fans together during the ultra-competitive pro-football playoffs.” It includes recipes on the Avocados from Mexico website.


In December, cruise line Carnival said it planned to unveil the first TV commercial from its new multi-brand marketing initiative during the Super Bowl, which will be its first-ever in the game.

The commercial was created by BBDO Atlanta.

It will be a 60-second spot selected from the company’s “World’s Leading Cruise Lines Marketing Challenge,” which it says gives North American consumers the chance to provide Carnival with input on its new creative.

Hosted by Cedric the Entertainer, the interactive crowdsourcing contest lets consumers “join the company’s marketing team” and vote for their favorite creative concept on WorldsLeadingCruiseLines, the brand says.

“There is no bigger stage than the Super Bowl for telling our story, and we’re excited about the opportunity to start a new dialogue with consumers about cruising and use their input in helping us pick the creative concepts,” said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival, in a statement. “With this phase of the marketing initiative, we want to capture what is so special about cruising and sailing in the open sea.”

Carnival has also launched what it calls a Cruise-a-Nality tool that helps vacationers decide what type of cruise is right for them based on a series of personality-focused questions and it is asking consumers to tweet what they love about cruising with the hashtag #LoveCruising.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals

Specialty pharmaceutical company Valeant Pharmaceuticals will be advertising its Jublia product for the first time.

According to a rep, the brand’s goal with its first Super Bowl spot is “to reach as many consumers as possible to educate them about the prominence of toenail fungus and ability to easily treat with the new topical solution toenail fungus treatment, Jublia.”

Valeant hopes to drive awareness of this treatment and to encourage consumers to see their dermatologist or podiatrist. In addition, the rep notes an estimated 35 million people in the U.S., or 1 in 10, suffer from toenail fungus.

“With more than 111 million people likely watching the game that means up to 12 million of them have the condition,” the rep said.

What’s more, the rep noted the condition is particularly common with athletes “because it thrives in warm, moist environments like sneakers and cleats as well as in shower floors in settings such as a locker room.”

The ad will not release early. It will debut during the third quarter.


Adhesive and sealant brand Loctite says it will become the first-ever adhesive brand to advertise during the Super Bowl.

“This is a very bold move for Loctite, for Adhesive Technologies and for Henkel,” said Susanne Cornelius, corporate vice president for the consumers and craftsmen business at parent Henkel Adhesive Technologies, in a statement. “So much has been achieved by our efforts for Loctite’s distribution, now is the right time to give consumers and customers a ‘big bang’ experience that will make our brand the top-of-mind choice and drive it further ahead of competitors in North America.”

The full 30-second spot won’t be released ahead of time. It will air at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

However, the brand says “the highly anticipated commercial will draw on the huge success of the current ‘Win at Glue’ campaign, calling attention that everyone can ‘win’ when using Loctite.”

The brand’s YouTube page includes a video with what it calls “the famous Loctite Dance,” which has more than 1.3 million views to date.

In a press release, Henkel says it believes it can differentiate itself from the competition with this Super Bowl spot.

“So far, the adhesive category has only been advertised in expected places with boring functional messages,” said Fred Chupin, vice president of marketing in North America at Henkel. “This game is where the most exciting and innovative brands come to tell their story on the biggest stage, and we felt that Loctite had something unique to say to America. We know that no one will expect what they will see from Loctite on February 1.”


Mobile device power and storage product brand Mophie said it would air its first-ever broadcast commercial during the Super Bowl.

Since its launch, Mophie says it has “experienced substantial growth and success despite mostly organic efforts in consumer marketing. Now, as momentum continues to build in the mobile power accessory category, Mophie intends to bring its message to life in front of the masses on advertising’s biggest stage.”

In a prepared statement, CEO Daniel Huang adds, “We’ve accomplished much on the strength of our products and integrity of the brand, and now we feel it’s the right time to boldly introduce our solutions to the largest audience possible.”

More specifically, a rep notes it’s all about expanding not only brand, but also category awareness.

“It’s a very unique situation. We’re the category leader and a brand that many people use, yet only 1 out of every 10 people in focus groups recognized our name. The mobile-charging category has surprisingly low awareness in general (10 percent),” the rep writes in an email. “Our goal is to not only continue to grow the Mophie brand, but generate awareness for the entire category. National advertising was the next logical step for us to create stronger category awareness while also increasing name recognition. And in terms of reach, you don’t get much bigger or broader than the Super Bowl.”

The brand released the spot, All-Powerless, on January 29. It features “arguably one of the most powerful and recognizable figures in the world” as well as “the likes of two donkeys, a walking dog, a rooster, hyenas, various types of flightless birds, and a goat” to “impactfully express the idea that your world comes apart when your mobile phone runs out of battery,” the rep says.


The Skittles brand, too, will be airing its first-ever Super Bowl ad and, in a press release, said it will be “celebrating its first official inclusion in The Big Game in a variety of unexpected ways in the weeks leading up to the Feb. 1 kickoff.”

That includes “activating the partnership for the first time following a tremendously successful relationship with [running back] Marshawn Lynch and the Seattle Seahawks.”

Saying it “couldn’t wait to kick off its first-ever official Super Bowl season,” the brand hosted “the most awesome tailgate” in the vacant parking lot of the site of Super Bowl XLIX nearly four weeks prior to the Super Bowl with former football player Kurt Warner.

It also hosted a faux press conference with Lynch.

The brand will run a 30-second commercial produced by DDB Chicago.


Web development platform Wix is also advertising in the Super Bowl for the first time with some help from five former NFL stars: Brett Favre, Terrell Owens, Emmitt Smith, Larry Allen and Franco Harris.

As part of the brand’s #ItsThatEasy campaign, these players will “transition from their football days and take a new direction in their careers” and go “from NFL stars to small business owners” and “discover the new challenge that they’ve taken on is made significantly easier with a Wix website.”

“Running a small business is no easy feat but it’s also incredibly rewarding. We wanted to highlight the fun aspects and how enjoyable your business can be when you’re not weighed down. We developed a campaign that perfectly fits what Wix is all about: providing small businesses with powerful and easy to use tools to design, manage and grow their online presence,” said CMO Omer Shai in a statement. “NFL legend or not, any business owner should be able to easily get their business online, just the way they want it.”

The brand first teased a clip with Owens and created websites for each of the players’ faux businesses, which even include purchasable products.

The full spot followed on January 27 and has 2.5 million views to date.

All creative materials for the #ItsThatEasy campaign are available on a designated website where consumers can “interact with the players, their businesses and Wix in a fun and dynamic location.”

Wix says its Super Bowl spot “will be an instrumental part of a cross-platform branding campaign geared towards taking the Wix brand to the next level and turning it into a household name.”

Do you think Super Bowl ad dollars are still a wise investment versus digital?