Audi, Axe Set to Return to Super Bowl Advertising with Big Launches at Stake

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Two returning brands are rounding out the roster of Super Bowl advertisers that Fox said it had closed a couple of weeks ago. Audi will be back with an ad for the seventh year in a row, a period that has roughly coincided with its huge bound in the US market, while Axe will return after debuting with its beach-astronaut-themed spot last year.

Audi plans to use its third-quarter spot in the Big Game on February 2 as a launching point for its crucial new sedan version of the A3 that is due in the US market next year. At just under $30,000, the new car will be Audi’s entry-level vehicle and its entrant in a rapidly expanding segment of the American premium-vehicle market.

If all of that sounds somewhat familiar, it’s because Audi arch-rival Mercedes-Benz did much the same thing in the 2013 Super Bowl. It used a much-noted spot featuring cameos by Kate Upton and Usher, and a star turn by Willem Dafoe as the devil, to set up the subsequent launch of the $29,900 CLA sedan in the same segment. Fast forward to now: CLA is helping Mercedes-Benz cement the US luxury-market title for 2013.[more]

“We’re excited to once again return to America’s biggest advertising stage,” Loren Angelo, director of marketing for Audi of America, said in a statement. The Super Bowl “is the perfect venue to launch” the A3 which is “set to be a game-changing vehicle for Audi in the US.”

This is the brand, of course, that already has made a number of hailed Super Bowl appearances, including its “Release the Hounds” spot in 2011 that whacked at Mercedes and BMW with its Audi A8 and a cameo by Kenny G, the “Vampire Party” ad in 2012 that demonstrated the daylight intensity of Audi LED headlights, and last year’s “Prom” spot that gave online fans of the pre-game campaign a chance to pick the spot’s actual ending in the Super Bowl.

Meanwhile last year, Axe used its spot to play to its ongoing contest to pick fans from the US and worldwide to launch into space next year aboard vehicles to be operated by SpaceX, or Space Exploration Corp., which at this point remains the lesser-known of Elon Musk’s recent startups. The Unilever-owned brand had an “astronaut” appear on a beach and steal the show from a lifeguard who’d just saved a young maiden.

This year, “with the Big Game in our backyard, we want to be there,” Matthew McCarthy, senior marketing director of Axe and men’s grooming for Unilever, which has headquarters in New Jersey not far from MetLife Stadium, told Advertising Age.

Unilever hasn’t hinted about the creative for this year’s Super Bowl spot, but it’s a good bet it’ll have something to do with space again, given Axe’s continuing investment in its long-term promotion of getting people into space. A group of 100 finalists in the Axe contest went to Kennedy Space Center in Florida last week to compete for the final 23 slots aboard the spacecraft that now are supposed to take off in 2015.

There are two Americans in the group. Think they’ll be watching the Super Bowl this year?

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