Automotive

The Real Super Bowl Commercial Winner Is...

Breaking down the search trends for EV manufacturers and the surprise winner of the evening.
The Real Super Bowl Commercial Winner Is...

It's been a few days now and most of the internet is buzzing around the true winner of the Super Bowl. Was it Coinbase with the QR code? Was it Amazon with the ‘mind-reader’ series? Was it BMW with Arnold Schwarzenegger as Zeus? GM with Dr. Evil?

Nope.

Tesla won the Super Bowl, and it's a testament to how big a brand they have. Don't believe me? Pull up Google Trends if you want to play along.

First, let’s do a search for "Tesla" and then apply a 7-day window. The big spikes you see below are from the night of the Super Bowl (not bad for $0 in advertising)! Also, notice how it peaks twice? Yeah, remember that, because we’ll get back to it.

It’s not just those peaks on the Super Bowl though, if you look to the left and right of those the general search volume for “Tesla” as a keyword is pretty high and isn’t that far off from how high it got during the Super Bowl.

Why did it get so high when they didn’t even advertise?

One of the major advantages of being a first mover is that you get to set the benchmark that your competitors have to meet in order to steal customers away. In the case of Tesla, I’d argue that they’ve set the benchmark pretty high for their competition. Regardless, it also drives Tesla even more free advertising when competitors enter the market. How so? Let’s go back to Google Trends…

Here is a search for “Silverado vs. Tesla.”

Like Tesla, we have a peak during the Super Bowl, but the volume of searching is relatively low otherwise. Why? Prior to the announcement of a new electric Silverado coming out in 2024, there would be relatively no need to compare the two, so this chart is relatively sparse until the GM Dr. Evil Super Bowl ad dropped. 

This is also a great example of Tesla benefiting from being the incumbent de-facto electric automotive brand. As shoppers become aware of new offerings they still need to go and compare that with the existing benchmark (in this case Tesla) and in this case the amount of searches comparing the two increases after the Super Bowl advertisements which just continues to create more Tesla brand exposure.

Speaking of sparse; let’s look at some of the brands that are brand new to the space vs well-established ones like the Silverado. The search "Polestar vs Tesla" was even more of a dead search (deader?) until the Super Bowl, and again it peaks on the 13th on the hour that Polestar ran their spot. 

The difference here is that after the peak the search volume isn’t sustaining that increase as dramatically as it did for the previous comparison. To me, this is evidence that Polestar has further to go to build a brand around themselves, whereas Silverado is already established but has to convince others it can pivot. Even more evidence is when you use google to search for “Polestar” and these are the recommendations you get with half of them suggesting you meant to type something around “Tesla.”

Screenshot of Live Google Recommendations

Finally, remember those two peaks in the “Tesla” google trend example? Let’s line up all the searches next to each other.

Notice how all of these searches line up with the Super Bowl? Technically Tesla’s doesn’t actually peak when everyone else does, it actually peaks 2 hours later. So after we’ve all been inundated with Beer, Wings, and legacy OEMs entering the EV space, it isn’t just during those ads that Tesla capitalizes. In fact, it isn’t until the game is over and the consumer has seen all of the offerings when Tesla finally peaks.

What did we learn? Move first. Own the research. Lead the trend.

Tesla wins again…at least for now.

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