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How GM Benefited From Buzz Over Rivals' Eminem, Darth Vader Super Bowl Ads

The automaker purchased search phrases from Google in an effort to boost its own website traffic after commercials from Chrysler and Volkswagen aired.

Both Chrysler and Volkswagen aired memorable Super Bowl commercials last week -- the former's ad featured Eminem, while the latter had a kid dressed up as Darth Vader.

On the other hand, rival automaker GM took a more low-key strategy with is Super Bowl spots in an effort to keep the focus on its vehicles.

But after seeing the Chrysler commercial, GM marketing chief Joel Ewanick decided he needed to take action.

"I'm sitting there watching to see if anybody is going to be really good and take off. (The ad) comes on and I say, 'Yeah, we're getting our butts kicked, so let's go,' " Ewanick told the Wall Street Journal.

He emailed his staff and told them to start purchasing search phrases from Google -- otherwise known as a "keyword bid."

In essence, GM paid Google to ensure that anyone who typed certain phrases would see, at the top of their search results, a paid search ad from Chevrolet.

Among the phrases GM bought? "Imported from Detroit," the tagline from Chrysler's Eminem commercial, and "Darth Vader," from the Volkswagen spot.

So did it work? Ewanick says GM got more than 54 million page views after the Super Bowl.

"We did the right thing to ride the wave," Ewanick said. "Someone said, 'Gee, they did better than us.' But we did better because of them."