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5 Super Bowl Car Companies Driving Ad Spending

Stocks in this article: TM GM

Number of ads: Two 60-second ads
Number of cars sold in 2013: 565,000

Volkswagen wants to be a big player in the U.S. market, but its sales here have been a story of two brands.

Audi saw sales jump more than 13% last year as it continues to gain on Lexus, Infiniti, Mercedes-Benz and BMW. Meanwhile, this year's 60-second Super Bowl spot is already looking like one of the best of 2014. Sarah McLachlan pops up with a desperate plea to help the poor misunderstood Doberhuahua breed of dogs concocted by a couple that couldn't make up its mind. The big-headed, small-bodied dogs go on a rampage and terrorize the globe before the couple, safe within the confines of their Audi A3, learns a valuable lesson: Don't compromise... ever.

Volkswagen's namesake brand wishes it was that personable. Volkswagen sales plummeted nearly 7% last year as its market share dropped to less than 3%. Its ad, meanwhile, cribs from It's A Wonderful Life as a father tells his daughter that each time a VW hits 100,000 miles, a German engineer gets its wings. Seriously, that's the entire premise.

The key difference is that while Audi has ingratiated itself to the luxury car buyer and made an attempt to relate to the U.S. market, Volkswagen has largely forgotten its '90s strategy of Jettas, tunes and Fahrvergnugen and adopted both styles and a public persona buyers are quick to shrug off. Audi may be a player in the U.S. market, but Volkswagen needs to stop playing around and get back to basics.

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