Automakers' National TV Spending Drops 41%

Automakers spent an estimated 41% less on national TV in July 2022 compared to a year ago, and impressions for the month were also down 4.2%, per 

Without the Olympics, NBA Finals and Stanley Cup (which all took place during at least part of July last year), TV ad spending was down for automakers like Toyota and others that sponsor major sporting events.

Instead of sports, many automakers bought TV ad impressions around “comfort food’” viewing like syndicated dramas and sitcoms as they prepare to introduce new 2023 vehicle models and corresponding creatives in the fall, says Stuart Schwartzapfel, senior vice president, media partnerships at

“At the same time, local TV ad impressions jumped to their highest levels all year, at 25.3% in July, with brands honing in on specific markets to move what’s left of 2022 inventory,” Schwartzapfel says.



In July 2022, Toyota allocated spend toward programming like "The Bachelorette" (4.43%) and "Friends" (3.13%).

Subaru ($10.5 million) led automotive brand TV ad spend for the month while emphasizing drama & action shows (17.9% of spend for the month) and reality shows (17.6%).

Rounding out the top five brands by estimated national TV spending for the month were Toyota ($9.4 million), Kia ($8.1 million), Chevrolet ($8.1 million) and Lexus ($7.1 million).

The top five brands by share of automaker TV ad impressions for July 2022 were Toyota (11.25%), Chevrolet (9.94%), Hyundai (8.48%), Lexus (7.64%) and Subaru (7.26%).

The most-seen automaker ads for the month were Nissan: Today Is Made For Thrill - Why Wait For Tomorrow? (3.42% of automaker TV ad impressions); Subaru: Don’t Worry (3.13%); Subaru: Girls’ Trip (3.05%); Chevrolet: The Future Is Right In Front Of You (2.51%) and Lexus: Modern Love (2.19%).

The biggest spending increases for July 2022 vs. July 2021 were Cadillac (+8,895% while spending $2.5 million this July vs. $28K last July); Buick (+120.8%); Subaru (+42.7%); Volvo (+39.0%) and Honda (+19.3%).

Cadillac aired just 14 national TV ads last July, but had 1,774 in July 2022 while focusing on programs like "NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt" (6.3% of TV ad impressions), "Today" (4.82%) and PGA Tour events (3.04%). 

Buick’s climb was fueled by syndicated programming, which accounted for nearly 75% of the brand’s TV ad spend on the month. 

Genesis was No. 20 this July at over $946K after not appearing on national TV at all last July.

The top programs for automakers by TV ad impressions share of voice, July 2022 were MLB (2.77%), "Law & Order: SVU" (1.83%), "The Big Bang Theory" (1.44%), 2022 Open Championship (1.36%) and "NCIS" (1.25%).

Syndicated programs were popular sources of TV ad impressions across the board for automotive brands, taking up five of the top 10 spots (by share of impressions in July). 

While golf and baseball appear high on the list, sports programming accounts for a much smaller portion of total impressions than a typical month. 

Just 16.1% of July 2022’s automaker TV ad impressions were delivered by sports, vs. 28.5% last July (bolstered by the Olympics, NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Final). At the same time, reality TV grew its share of auto brand impressions year-over-year, from 12.25% to 13.88%.

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