And Joel Ewanick, General Motors' global marketing chief, was ticked.
"OK, calm down. Don't get mad. Get even," Ewanick says he told his team. "If they've got a hot spot, then go wherever they go."
A team of Chevrolet marketers went into action, paying for links to Chevy's Super Bowl ads to appear as a top result when people Googled phrases such as "Darth Vader." On Sunday, the team did the same for the tag line "Imported from Detroit," when Chrysler's Eminem spot for the 200 sedan stole the show.
As a result, Chevrolet's ads got 55 million views online in the four days following the Super Bowl — far above expectations, Ewanick said. Despite the ongoing buzz around Chrysler, Chevrolet is one of several brands to run Super Bowl ads that worked to increase consumers' propensities to shop a vehicle the next time they're in the market.
Chrysler and its 200 took first place in the post-Super Bowl increase in consideration, according to data from traffic on consumer auto site Edmunds.com.
The second-place vehicle was the Chevy Silverado 3500, whose "Lassie"-themed ad helped consideration increase 143% in the four days following the Super Bowl, compared with the month beforehand, Edmunds.com said. The No. 2 make was Kia, whose "epic" commercial for the Optima sedan increased the brand's overall consideration 13%.
Chevrolet's brand consideration increased 5%, placing it sixth behind Chrysler, Kia, Hyundai, Suzuki and Volkswagen, according to Edmunds.com. GM's own consideration data show the percentage of people with a "good" or "excellent" opinion of Chevy increased from 63% in December to 70% last week, spokesman Pat Morrissey said.
That's in large part because Chevrolet made sure people could view its commercials whenever they watched other popular ads on YouTube— such as Volkswagen's.
Brian Thomas, general manager of Volkswagen's U.S. marketing, said his brand also bought advertising for Super Bowl-related search terms, which the automaker pays for only when someone clicks on the ad. But Volkswagen didn't need to buy quite as many since so many people were already searching for its ad. After all, the commercial had already been viewed 13 million times before the Super Bowl even aired.
"When someone wants to see something on YouTube," they'll find it, Thomas said.
On Super Bowl Sunday, when "Chrysler 200" was the second most-searched phrase on Google, "2011 Beetle" was the next-highest automotive phrase at No. 18. On Monday, when "Chrysler 200" placed fifth, "Darth Vader Super Bowl commercial" placed 12th among all Googled phrases.
And in the end, the buzz benefited Chevrolet, too.
"I'm not sure we'd get all the views if it wasn't for the fact that Volkswagen got all the views," Ewanick said.