Automakers Spend Big On Olympics TV Ads

Automakers increased their spending on television media last month, largely thanks to the Olympics, according to

In July 2021, automakers spent an estimated $164 million according to iSpot -- an increase of nearly 60% year-over-year. 

Impressions, however, were down slightly (24.6 billion) compared to July 2020 (25.9 billion.)  

"With so much live sports on TV in July, automakers took full advantage of those tentpole events to get new messaging in front of large audiences," Stuart Schwartzapfel, senior vice president, media partnerships at, tells Marketing Daily. “At this point in the calendar, these brands are both trying to move 2021 inventory and pivoting to 2022 vehicle stock, so what better place to pursue those goals than major events like the Stanley Cup Final, NBA Finals and Olympics?”



The Tokyo Olympics garnered the most TV ad impressions (1.7 billion), followed by the NBA Playoffs/Finals (698 million), MLB Baseball (243 million) “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (176 million) and ESPN’s SportsCenter (168 million).

Sports-related programming made up over 30% of automaker TV ad impressions, while news programs made up over 17%, and reality TV comprised over 12% of impressions.

The top five brands by spending in July 2021 were Toyota ($29.3 million), Nissan ($14.8 million), Kia ($14.7 million), Chevrolet ($13.8 million) and Jeep ($12.7 million).

Nearly 48% of Toyota’s national TV ad spend during the month went toward the Olympics, with another 24% dedicated to the NBA Playoffs and Finals as the brand went all-in on prime-time sports programming, per

For Chevy, sports were a big part of national TV ad spend (over 87%), but over 33% of impressions also came from local advertising. 

The most-seen automaker ads were Jeep: "Wildly Civilized" (1.51 billion TV ad impressions), Nissan: "Return to Rugged" (1.06 billion), Chevrolet: "Open" (939 million), Toyota: "Watch This" (529 million) and Lexus: "Performance - Rush Hour" (519 million).

The top five brands by impression for the month were Toyota (3.44 billion), Hyundai (2.11 billion), Lexus (2.04 billion), Nissan (1.96 billion) and Jeep (1.90 billion).

The biggest spending increases among the top 10 brands by spend year-over-year were Chevrolet (up 357%), Toyota (up 164%), Kia (up 139%), Jeep (up 84%) and Ford (up 62%),

The top networks for automaker TV ad impressions in July were NBC (2.0 billion), ABC (1.1 billion), MSNBC (782 million), CBS (509 million) and Hallmark (463 million).

Broadcast networks (both English and Spanish-language) accounted for nearly 30% of impressions for auto brands in July, per

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