By on August 18, 2016

2016 BMW 328i xDrive Sports Wagon

It makes sense that an advertising blitz during the year’s most-watched event will boost your brand, but that wasn’t the case for automakers during the Rio Olympics.

According to a brand interest study, automakers who spent the most money saw no improvement in consumer perception, Automotive News reports.

YouGov BrandIndex looked at brand perception after the first week of Olympics coverage. Four automakers ranked among the top 10 ad spenders, to no avail. In fact, the only company to see any real boost from the coverage was the TV network carrying the coverage — NBC.

“NBC made a large enough leap in YouGov BrandIndex’s Word Of Mouth score to make it the only brand to pass a statistically significant threshold of the three metrics used to measure Olympics sponsors,” the tracking company said in a statement.

Top spender BMW dropped $28.7 million on its Olympic ad campaign, followed by General Motors with $27.3 million in ad buys. Ford ranked sixth ($16.9 million) and Toyota 10th ($14.6 million).

Only two automotive brands registered a tiny upward blip in interest — Nissan and Bridgestone. Still, the bump fell below the “threshold of statistical significance,” according to BrandIndex. This, despite Nissan’s status as official supplier of vehicles to the 2016 Olympics. (CEO Carlos Ghosn even carried the flame in the torch relay!).

The company ranks brands based on public feedback, combining the scores from three criteria: “word of mouth,” “buzz,” and “purchase consideration.”

[Image: BMW USA]

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37 Comments on “Automakers Shelled Out Millions for Olympic Ads That No One Talked About...”


  • avatar
    TDIGuy

    At least around here, BMW seems to have done a lot of promotion involving meeting Olympic athletes at their dealerships.

    Other than that the most noticeable vehicle I have seen in ads during the Olympics is the old Dodge Caravan with fake wood paneling and whitewall tires that shows up in the Visa commercials.

  • avatar
    threeer

    I do really like the new BMW ad (though I’m not sure how I feel about the brown concept vehicle shown). That a 2002 plays a prominent role is just extra icing for me! But the wife REALLY likes the new Infiniti ad with Kit Harrington (aka John Snow).

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I am certain that the fortunes of Rachel Platten have risen faster than the company she’s singing about (Nationwide):

    http://collegespun.com/news/singer-in-the-nationwide-commercial-olympics

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “Top spender BMW dropped $28.7 million on its Olympic ad campaign, followed by General Motors with $27.3 million in ad buys. Ford ranked sixth ($16.9 million) and Toyota 10th ($14.6 million).”

    That’s an astonishing waste, as are most TV car ads. This means BMW spent nearly $100 per US sale this year, just on this one ad campaign.

    Besides, the ‘interest’ measured by researchers needs to translate into post-negotiation profits. That’s a tough connection to make, especially when the memory of these inane ads fades a week later.

  • avatar
    a5ehren

    My wife likes that BMW X1 ad, but she couldn’t tell you anything about the product beyond “is a car”.

  • avatar
    Dan

    I caught the ad with BMW’s racing wheelchair.

    They were unable to showcase any actual BMWs in the spot, because one or more of them would have run the poor gimp off the road.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    Hard to expect much from the Zika and Poop Water Games. The IOC won’t make the same mistake again while they still have the choice.

  • avatar
    smartascii

    I’m sure there are people who research this sort of thing and know better than me, but do people really make car buying decision on the basis of TV advertising? I help (perhaps) more people than average with their car purchases, and the only time TV ads ever come up are negative; i.e., “If you like the Ford, there’s also a Lincoln version that might be a little bit nicer.”

    “No, I don’t want a Lincoln – those commercials with Matthew McConaughey are stupid.”

    I’ve never had anyone tell me that they wanted a certain car because they saw it advertised. It’s usually because a family member had a good experience with a certain brand, or it looks really nice, or (mostly) because it meets a real or perceived need, like carrying a whole brood of kids or towing a small house through the unpaved wilderness.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Late to the party, but I will swear-off a product BECAUSE of inane advertising. A Toledo-area “storefront” dentist, Stanton Optical, and a couple others are on the list.

      Since this site is Canadian, what was the CBC advertising like for the Games? (Anything better than the jingoistic NBC in the States? Their coverage is getting worse and worse every Olympics. It’s said the Bob Costas may be near retirement, and good riddance, as he’s gone from being an almost-late, great-ABC-broadcaster-Jim McCay to a total tool! Perhaps Al Michaels could pick up the baton, then pass it to the gent-of-color who did weekend daytime and anchored the Closing Ceremony, or heaven-help-us, Seacrest.)

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    I always question the polls, and in this case, YouGov BrandIndex might be the problem. It’s a well-known “secret” that the percentage of non-responses, people unwilling to take the poll, has been getting bigger and bigger over the years, and even pollsters worry that it skews the results. For telephone polls, the replacement of land lines with cell phones has been especially worrisome. Given that there’s no mention of how the poll/survey was conducted, I’m suspicious of the results.

  • avatar
    RHD

    The Olympics are becoming less relevant and less interesting as time goes on, at least to me. Am I the only one?

    That said, car commercials seem to avoid any mention of a good reason to buy that particular car. They might be more effective if it was a guy-next-door or Mom-next-door type explaining a few reasons why they love their particular car, and why you should get one. That approach couldn’t be any worse than what’s being done right now.

    • 0 avatar
      KalapanaBlack

      Agree about the Olympics, but disagree about that particular ad idea. Toyota tried it and ended up with that “grounded to the ground” nonsense couple. Which not only outlived that commercial, but that generation of Camry.

      The ads I remember are more encompassing and artful. The 1990s Dodge “different” ad with the blob becoming each model line through glass squares. Or some of the early 2000s Infiniti commercials, with electrojazz soundtracks (the Q45 1950s autorama spot), or the one about the kid growing up riding in the backseat of the family wagon and seeing a 240Z race past, then buying a red G35 coupe in the present day. Or the 1995 Oldsmobile Aurora spot with the Statue of Liberty taking interest in an Aurora passing on a ferry while an Aaron Copeland song swells in the background.

      Most automotive advertising is dumbed down and focus grouped to death these days. Bestselling and bought-and-paid-for media “awards” are common go-to crutches.

      The Volvo XC90 launch ad with a seemingly Bjork-ed rendition of “Feeling Good” was the most recent OK ad, but even that has given way to some nonsense about being the “most awarded SUV of the decade” in the current ad buy.

      Where’s the art and emotion?

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Still relevant to me. Female hardbody nirvana

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      You’re not alone in not caring about the summer games. I know so few who still care that the ones who do seem about as sharp as people who know the story lines associated with reality talent shows. It was a relief seeing so few people in my life engaged by the Olympics, since I’m becoming an outlier in my contempt for spectator sports in general. I went from knowing anorak levels of detail about the three major racing series to watching three races in a year. I kicked the round ball sports so long ago I couldn’t tell you when. This year I’m intent on not letting the NFL get between me and fresh air on fall Sundays, having had a sports bar in my home last year. The goal is all participation, no watching people I wouldn’t want to talk to on a plane.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      They couldn’t possibly be any less relevant or less interesting for me.

      Put it this way: I watched/heard about 10 minutes of the entire brodcast, and that was not by choice as it was on in the waiting room at a doctor’s office.

      10 minutes was all I could take of listening to the announcers going on and on about how hard the participants trained and how hugely important this (pointless) test was. The athletes were rowing boats, I’m guessing in a race. I went out to the building’s lobby where I couldn’t hear it, and read/commented on TTAC until they released my dad (I was there to drive him home as he had been sedated while they put a shot in his back).

      The 1.5 year old Road & Track magazine in the waiting room was more interesting than the Olympics. That’s pretty bad.

      I’m not downing those who enjoy it (the games), not at all, its just boring and worthless to me. Different strokes…

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      No, you are not alone.
      In fact, I do believe the TV ratings are in the tank big time.

      They are getting more money per ad, but less people are watching and I guess BMW can tell you the end results right here.

      To me, the olympics really ended when they turned professional. Once you had no little guy to root for against the Commie drugged pros and only get to see the same old professionals ging at, forgetaboutit.

  • avatar
    Corollaman

    Billions in advertising is not going to convince anyone that BMW’s are endless money pits as they age.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      Why would BMW want to convince people its cars are endless money pits?

      “Buy today, regret tomorrow: The Ultimate Money Draining Machine”

      Truth in advertising at least.

  • avatar
    Cabriolet

    All cars become money pits as they age. You have to know when to quit.

    If your local garage closed this month for a nice vacation in Europe you know it is time.

  • avatar
    Fred

    I haven’t watched much of the Olympics this time. No one at work is talking about the Olympics and no one is talking about the ads. Maybe because football is starting and that’s the only sport that matters here in Texas.

  • avatar
    bswanny

    I disagree. I saw the BMW i3 commercial and never gave much thought to them until I saw the lease deals they were offering. Advertising worked

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      yeah, what’s the deal with those i3 leases? Around here, you can get a 2016 i3 (non-REX) for about $3,000 down and $159/mo. Seems really low for an EV that probably depreciates like a rock. I think subsidies are helping keep the leases cheap.

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    GM – $27.3M

    I sincerely hope they paid $0.00 for the airheaded “real people” in their commercials.

  • avatar
    Junebug

    If the interest I have in pro sports was lard, it wouldn’t be enough to grease a frying pan. But, I did enjoy Michael Phelps and Katie Ladecki earn their gold. And that Usain Bolt gentleman is a class act, did you see him stop an interview to pay respect when they played our national anthem. I agree with ya’ll that most car adds are stupid and do little to get you in the dealership. However, the Subie one where the dad see’s his daughter as a 5-6 year old then reality hits and she’s a teen driving off – well that hits me hard, I have 2 daughters and relived that scene twice now. Doesn’t get any easier either. I didn’t buy a Subie though, oldest has a Mazda 3 and youngest a Civic – both got the loaded to the gills versions!

  • avatar

    The only people who watch commercials are currently collecting Social Security.

    The rest of us have figured out how a DVR works.

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