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For many Americans, Super Bowl commercials are the main event of the big game. It’s understandable. Companies understand that the stage is set on SB Sunday. Tens of millions of viewers means the best opportunity to advertise. Usually, this is a popular time for companies to announce their newest and most exciting products. Car companies often use this time to announce new models. However, you may have noticed fewer car commercials this year than normal. Here’s why you didn’t see as many super bowl commercials from car companies this year. 

Will Ferrell in Bridgerton-style commercial
Will Ferrell GM commercial | GM

Why were there so few super bowl commercials about cars?

According to CNBC, many car companies are putting their eggs in the EV basket. I thought there was a saying about that, but it probably isn’t important. Developing battery technology is expensive, and that is only one aspect of what it takes to build an electric car. Given the extreme costs of EV development, many carmakers are pulling back on advertising to spend that money on R&D. 

You might be asking, “Well, hell, Pete. How much does advertising cost? It can’t cost that much.” Most folks understand that advertising is extremely expensive, but in case you didn’t know, a 30-second ad spot during the Super Bowl costs roughly $6.5 million in 2023. Not to mention the money and time it costs to make the commercial. It turns out that can rack up quite the bill. 

CNBC also reported that, according to Eric Haggstrom, director of business intelligence for Advertiser Perceptions, supply chain issues also share some of the blame. Last year, the lack of consistent inventory hurt most car companies’ bottom line. This could also explain the tight purse strings. 

Which car companies ran commercials this year? 

Ram REV EV concept truck | Ram

According to The Drive, only Kia, Jeep, GM, and Ram chose to buy time for a Super Bowl commercial. However, Porsche did air a pre-game ad with Paramount. 

Major players like Ford, Toyota, and Hyundai, who usually have some fun with Super Bowl commercials, opted out this year. These brands also happen to be some of the major players in the EV game. The math is adding up. 

Even more interestingly, The Drive notes that last year’s Super Bowl commercial spending was ruled by none other than car companies. Last year the car industry spent a combined $99.3 million in ad spots during the big game. Not only were carmakers the biggest spenders, they were the biggest spenders by a long shot. The runner-up industry was TV, movie, and web media, which spent $70.5 million. 

What was the best car commercial this year?

Again, there really weren’t all that many to choose from. Despite the low attendance, we did see Will Ferrell an awful lot. GM went to the mat for their super conglomerate spectacle of electric GMs driving through scenes from every major Netflix property. Aside from the painfully cringy display of supercapitalism, at least we got to see some of the Gm EVs we have been excited to see. 

Maybe Super Bowl commercials will become a priority for car makers again, or maybe they won’t. Either way, that is why we saw a noticeable decrease in Super Bowl commercials from car companies.