If you were a betting person, do you think more automakers would follow General Motors' exit from Facebook advertising — or from Super Bowl advertising?
The consensus of several car-brand marketers and outside experts contacted by brandchannel is that, if either outlet faces any more defections from the auto industry, it's more likely to be Facebook — which GM's CMO Joel Ewanick isn't bailing on as a messaging and engagement platform, just as a paid platform.
"What car brands will do with Facebook is say that, although it is a giant, [advertising] really may not be delivering them what they need from a surgical point of view," said Doug Scott, SVP of GfK Automotive, a branding consultancy in Southfield, Mich. "But I don't think there will be an exodus from the Super Bowl."
Honda's U.S. CMO, Mike Accavitti, told Automotive News that the brand's social-media "adjustments" could include Facebook advertising if it doesn't produce sufficient returns. "Just because there are 500 million people on Facebook, it doesn't mean we have to advertise on it," he said. "If it's not engaging, we're just wasting our money." However, a Honda spokesman said that the company has no plans to change its Facebook strategy.
But Jon Brancheau, Nissan's U.S. CMO, told brandchannel that he wouldn't sell Facebook short — even as an advertising medium. "Facebook is going to figure out how, in relevant fashion, to continue to draw advertisers again for all the right reasons," he said. "It's too powerful and too smart a company."
Meanwhile, there are doubts among some auto brands whethere they got the best returns for their levels of ad spending in the last Super Bowl, partly because it was so cluttered with industry rivals. But Brancheau said that "you'll continue to see about that number of auto adverisers in the Super Bowl. It's too big of a media property."
In fact, on the heels of GM's Super Bowl pullout last week, Hyundai's U.S. operations issued a statement saying it is "extremely pleased to be an advertiser on the 2013 Super Bowl."
And don't even count out Ford from the Big Game next year. It has forgone Super Bowl advertising under CMO Jim Farley, but Ford marketing sources haven't ruled out a return to the game at some point if branding campaigns and product launches make it good timing — probably not next year.
Why, Ford might just get back into the Super Bowl because GM just got out.