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Trends in automotive TV advertising—still worth it for dealers?

Let's explore some emerging trends within the automotive industry that make some dealers wonder if it’s worth advertising on TV anymore. 

Television advertisements are a big deal for car manufacturers. Minding our language, and depending on who you ask, it might be fair to say that television ads “used to be” a major part of car manufacturer advertising.

We’ll explore some emerging marketing trends within the automotive industry that make some dealers wonder if it’s worth advertising on TV stations anymore. 

The Super Bowl

It’s no secret that the Super Bowl is the highest-rated television event of the year in the United States. Viewers at home often gather with family and friends with some knowledge of the game but a sincere interest in the creative ways big companies will present their products to a massive, somewhat captive audience. 

But this year is going to be different. Only a handful of car manufacturers are spending the big dollars needed to enter the stage, including KIA, Volkswagen, and BMW – all of which are owned outside of the United States. This means that for the first time in a while, you won’t see commercials from Stellantis (Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, RAM), Chevrolet, Ford, and others, even Toyota.

Does this indicate a wider trend? Is it worth it for manufacturers and dealers to spend the money to be on the TV, even well outside the yearly Super Bowl event?

A Look At Trends And Prices

The average commercial spot for the Super Bowl costs about $6,500,000 for a 30-second spot. This figure does not include the production of the commercial, which includes hiring a marketing firm (or internally), likely some well-known talented actors, and more. That’s a lot of money for 30 seconds.

At the same time, car manufacturers are investing more and more in electric vehicles. According to the National Resources Defense Council, current investments from car manufacturers range upwards of $210 billion, with significantly more expected globally. The investment is, in part, an effort from manufacturers to beat each other to market with superior electric vehicles and to get ahead of gas mileage numbers asserted by environmental agencies.

What’s Worth It To A Dealer

A car dealer or marketer who needs to sell cars to make money might feel a bit less supported when their manufacturer opts out of a huge event like the Super Bowl. This is easy to understand! However, does this mean that dealers should stop doing television promos themselves?

That’s a harder question to answer! One of the main reasons for producing and airing television commercials is simply for brand awareness. Sure, you have some level of choice of which channel and show you want to display your dealership on, but streaming options allow you more choice when it comes to targeting specifics in some cases.

My best suggestion here is one that could be used to answer many advertising questions: If you have doubts about your investments, try something else and see what works. There are many options out there to explore in addition to television advertising, ranging from digital products to mailers.


Car manufacturers leaving the television market during the most popular event is more of a reflection of priorities within the automotive industry than an issue specific to television itself. If you, as a dealer, find that television advertising works for you. This might require some experimentation, but that is a big part of marketing!

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Ben Stewart
Ben Stewart
Ben is a contributing writer and reporter for CBT News with 10 years of dealership experience in automotive marketing. Ben loves all things cars and putting together strategies that help dealerships succeed.

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