“On TV & Video” is a column exploring opportunities and challenges in advanced TV and video.
Advertisers always pay millions to promote themselves during the Super Bowl – but this year’s big game is particularly competitive.
Roughly 40% of brands buying airtime during the Super Bowl this year are first-timers, and some advertisers had to pay as much as $7 million for their 30 seconds of high-profile brand awareness building.
But this isn’t Vroom’s first rodeo or, rather, its first Super Bowl. The online used car retailer will make its second consecutive appearance with an ad that CMO Peter Scherr said is purposely more lighthearted than its spot in 2021.
“Last year, we played on the idea that it’s ‘torture’ to buy a car through a dealership, and that effort was really successful for us,” Scherr said. “But we felt people are ready for a lighter tone this year.”
The ad, inspired by Broadway musicals, features a song-and-dance routine choreographed by “La La Land” choreographer Mandy Moore (no relation to the actress).
Scherr spoke with AdExchanger.
AdExchanger: What’s different about your Super Bowl commercial this year?
SCHERR: Last year was an exaggerated look into the painful process of dealing with the dealership to buy your car.
In this year’s spot, our goal is really to remind consumers that they could also sell their cars to Vroom just as easily as they could buy a car from our online platform. We’re using a more fun, Broadway musical-style dance routine to portray the emotional roller coaster of selling a car on a peer-to-peer network, from the high of finding a buyer to the low of being flaked on.
We’re resetting the tone in this ad to highlight the value that Vroom brings to people selling their car.
Why advertise during the Super Bowl?
At this stage in the adoption curve for online car buying, our main competitors are actually local dealerships around the country. The vast majority of consumers are still going into local car dealerships.
We want to advertise on live events like the Super Bowl because we want to be in the consideration set of car buyers and sellers with respect to where they’re currently going.
What makes your media strategy unique?
We’re very attuned to seasonality within the industry.
We’re focused on when and how we should map our spend to the levels of demand that we’re measuring in the marketplace, and our creative message translates into TV spots and digital and social efforts in a way that really is breakthrough.
We feel that what we’ve developed for the Super Bowl both this year and last year is really breakthrough messaging.
What is Vroom’s overall media strategy?
We began advertising the brand nationally in 2019. At first, we were running ads on linear and digital video, because that’s where we felt we would get the most efficient returns on our spend. We’ve expanded into other channels since then, but TV and online video is still our biggest presence.
Is one medium more successful than the other for you?
Vroom gets the biggest response with respect to measuring brand lift when we’re active on linear.
More specifically, appointment viewing is particularly high-performing for us. We’ve had a lot of success with live sports, especially the Olympics and the Super Bowl. Evening news slots work well for us, too, so those are mainstays in our budget.
Will the shift to streaming change your strategy?
We’re already active in streaming, and it’s becoming an increasing part of our budgets. But we also have other ways to get the brand [message] across engaging content, like podcasts and involvement with social media influencers. Anytime we see some traction, we plus it up.
We’re going to adapt our media plans and buying strategies to where the consumer is headed – and we do see pockets of great success in these other channels. But when we’re looking for the heavy audience numbers, we still look mostly to linear.
This interview has been edited and condensed.