Why CarMax, Carvana and Vroom are sitting out the 2023 Super Bowl

Marketing

Used-vehicle retail giant CarMax Inc. and online used-vehicle retailers Carvana Co. and Vroom Inc. will not air advertisements during Super Bowl LVII.

Spokespersons for the three retailers told Automotive News there are currently no plans to air company advertisements during the game, which is scheduled for kickoff at 6:30 p.m. ET Feb. 12.

Fox, the network that will carry the game broadcast, said in September that 95 percent of available commercial time was already sold out. Costs of some select 30-second advertisements reached an estimated $7 million.

Richmond, Va.-based CarMax did not air a commercial during the Super Bowl in 2022, though it has placed such advertisements before. Tempe, Ariz.-based Carvana made its debut as a Super Bowl advertiser in 2022 with a 30-second commercial titled “Oversharing Mom.”

Houston-based Vroom has twice aired advertisements during the Super Bowl. The online retailer sparked some controversy in 2021 with a commercial called “Dealership Pain,” which ribbed the car-buying process at a traditional dealership. In 2022, Vroom ran “Flake the Musical,” a commercial that evoked the movie musical La La Land to tout the seamlessness of selling through its online platform.

In their most recent quarterly filings, the three retailers indicated they have undertaken cost-saving measures to partially offset declines in revenue, retail vehicles sold and profits that occurred as used-car market conditions deteriorated in 2022.

CarMax’s advertising spending was $58.7 million in the three months ended Nov. 30, 2022, its fiscal third quarter. That’s down about 23 percent from its spending in the year-earlier period. Carvana’s advertising spending was $117 million in its third quarter ended Sept. 30, 2022, down about 7 percent from the year-earlier period. Vroom’s advertising expense in its third quarter — also ended Sept. 30 — was $14.9 million, down nearly 58 percent from the year-earlier period.

CarMax ranks No. 1 on Automotive News’ list of the top 100 retailers ranked by used-vehicle sales, with retail sales of 924,338 used vehicles in 2021. Carvana ranks No. 2, with retail sales of 425,237 used vehicles in 2021; and Vroom ranks No. 10, with retail sales of 80,910.

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