With a starting price tag of $156,000, the Acura NSX supercar might be the most expensive product appearing in a Super Bowl ad this year. Acura estimates annual demand for the made-to-order car at just 800 vehicles annually.
So why spend the estimated $5 million it costs to run a 30-second Super Bowl ad on a niche product that the majority of people watching the game probably cannot afford? According to Acura, the goal is to use the flashy car to highlight the Acura brand's new "precision crafted performance" marketing theme and also win some love for lower-priced models.
"This car is a representation of precision crafted performance and we are looking for the halo effect on all of our models," said Leila Cesario, Acura's manager-national advertising.
But the NSX is very much the star of the 30-second ad, which will run in the first quarter and was created by Mullen Lowe, Los Angeles. Backed by the classic Van Halen song "Runnin' with the Devil," the ad dramatizes the production process involved in making the NSX. Extreme close-ups portray melting aluminum, sparks flying and the engine revving.
The product-first approach runs counter to typical Super Bowl ad formulas of using celebrities, talking animals, one-liners, or tear-jerking scenes. "This is one of those products that you just want to let it speak for itself and you don't want to get in the way of that message," Ms. Cesario said.
Acura used a different tactic when it last appeared in the game in 2012. That ad featured Jerry Seinfeld battling noted gearhead Jay Leno for the first NSX off the production line.
This year's ad uses red, white and blue colors in a subtle move to call out the vehicle's U.S. roots.
Acura, which is owned by Honda, says the NSX is "the only supercar designed, developed and manufactured in the U.S." Global production will begin this spring at a manufacturing center in Marysville, Ohio. Consumers can begin ordering the car on Feb. 25, the ad points out.
The ad represents the first time Van Halen has allowed "Runnin' with the Devil" to be used in an ad, according to Acura. The Van Halen brothers are apparently fans of the NSX.
Acura plans to use Twitter's new "conversational" ad program to spread the word about the ad. The program, which was launched earlier this year, is like a promoted tweet but includes so-called "call-to-action" buttons that if clicked compose a pre-populated brand tweet that the user can then customize and share.
Acura plans to use it to spread the video of the Super Bowl ad as well as let consumers enter a sweepstakes. Winners will get the chance to drive an NSX around a race course.
Acura's larger "Precision Crafted Performance " campaign launched on Jan. 14 and touts "quality and innovative engineering that goes into every detail." Ads are voiced by Michael B. Jordan.