Americans love the Super Bowl.
In fact, 9 of the 10 most watched programs in American history are Super Bowls. For the most part, we know what we'll see. We'll collectively see over 1.25 billion chicken wings consumed, 11.2 million pounds of potato chips dipped in guacamole made from 8 million pounds of avocados. Sales of antacids actually spike 20% the day after the Super Bowl. I'll withhold the figures on calories and grams of fat consumed -- seriously, you don't want to know. If we're lucky, we might even get a football game this year.
But what we won't see is a little unusual: We'll be missing some classic automotive ads on the airwaves during the most anticipated commercial spots of the year.
Missing some classics!
Over the past five years, auto advertising has accounted for roughly 30% of Super Bowl advertising airtime, according to Ace Metrix. Last year, 11 automotive brands aired commercials during the game, a number that has dropped to only six brands so far -- BMW, Kia, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, and Toyota. While some automakers have yet to disclose their plans, there are numerous automakers behind classic ads that we know won't be participating this year.
For the first time in seven years, Audi, which is Volkswagen's luxury brand, will be sitting on the advertising sidelines. You might remember Audi's spotlight last year, which featured the fearsome "Doberhuahua."
Also absent from this year's Super Bowl commercials will be Volkswagen's namesake mainstream brand. A few years ago Volkswagen put out one of the most memorable commercials, "The Force," which followed a seriously bummed-out kid trying desperately to use his "Star Wars" powers. The minute-long spot has generated 60.9 million views on YouTube.
Detroit's two largest automakers, General Motors (NYSE:GM) and Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F), are also ditching plans for this year's Super Bowl ads. Last year, Ford was absent during the game itself, but did broadcast a pre-game commercial that drew attention to the Fusion hybrid.
General Motors unleashed two 30-second ads last year to support its Chevrolet brand, as the automaker tried to accelerate hype around its redesigned full-size Silverado. Although GM will be absent from the Super Bowl in terms of commercials, it won't disappear completely. GM will present the Most Valuable Player with a new Colorado midsize pickup, which has lots of "technology and stuff." I imagine this presentation will be a bit better rehearsed. (Sorry, Chevy guy, I was rooting for you.)
While some automakers have yet to reveal their plans, the absence of many this year is certainly a reversal of recent years. There could be many reasons for the disappearance, including that new-vehicle sales have finally reached pre-recession levels and the additional advertising isn't worth the premium Super Bowl price tag. This year's rates have been reported to be as high as $4.5 million for a 30-second ad. It could also be poor timing: Some brands don't have a flashy new ride rolling out at the perfect time when an ad in the Super Bowl could help push sales to a higher level.
Or, perhaps, automakers are simply worried this year could be a repeat of 2014: If there's a blowout, a large chunk of the audience may give up on the game and switch to the Puppy Bowl by the end of the first quarter.
Just kidding, Broncos fans. Just kidding.
Daniel Miller owns shares of Apple, Ford, and General Motors. The Motley Fool recommends Apple, Ford, and General Motors. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Ford. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.