AutoTrader.com, which has been measuring activity on its site for the past three Super Bowl games, said first-time ads by exotic car brands got by far the most traffic. That’s no surprise, really. Exotic cars are pretty much universally loved, and when they show up where they don’t usually belong, one can expect they will garner huge interest, especially when the game does not.
Maserati, which has never come within spitting distance of football, saw the biggest lift in searches at both the make and model level, per AutoTrader. The Ghibli model rose 2,143% the hour after their ad ran, while searches for the Maserati brand on the site were up 385%. And the other first-time advertiser in exotics is Jaguar. AutoTrader said the new F-Type sports car, the feature of the "Villains" ad, was up 1,460% the hour after the spot ran, while searches for Jaguar overall rose 208%.
Kelley Blue Book posted similar results on traffic to its site: Maserati got a 4,250% increase in new-car searches. “Maserati [is] not a name that you would associate with your average household luxury brand,” said Arthur Henry, senior analyst at KBB, who added that since there are fewer luxury shoppers, it takes more to drive the search numbers. "In years past when shoppers were tighter with their wallets, the luxury brands didn’t have the impact on shoppers as they did this year. As the economy and shopper confidence improves, luxury looks to be the hot ticket item for 2014.”
More pedestrian luxury cars also got higher research activity on AutoTrader. Audi's canine-catastrophe spot for the A3 got the third-largest gain on AutoTrader.com from a make/model perspective, with a 379% increase in search activity. Hyundai was next in line with a 373% lift in searches for its Genesis luxury coupe. On the more mass-market side, Toyota’s ad with the Muppets and Terry Crews helped Highlander attention rise 84%. Ford Fusion saw an 81% increase in interest.
Said Rick Wainschel, VP of automotive insights at the company: "Models like the A3, Genesis, Fusion and Highlander have a significant amount of competition and are on more consumers' shopping lists, so it means a bit more when they can stand out."
Kia got a 150% lift the hour following its Matrix-themed "The Truth" spot. Hyundai and Audi performed well in the brand category as well, with searches up 50% and 47%, respectively on KBB. Chrysler’s Bob Dylan ad got a lift of 47%, although one can surmise the numbers would have been a lot higher had they grabbed an earlier time slot.
Cars.com, meanwhile, looked at things from a different angle: the top-selling cars in Denver and Seattle, the two cities that are home base for the Super Bowl contenders. The Ford F-150 is the top-selling model in both Seattle and Denver; Subaru was the most popular brand in the list of top 10 cars in Denver, and also held the number two and three spots in Seattle’s top 10. The model most often bought by women in Seattle was the Honda CR-V, while men preferred the Ford F-150. Same with Denver.