There’s a decided downturn in the number of automakers planning to pitch their wares during the coming weekend’s Super Bowl XLIX. Only five have confirmed a presence, including Nissan, returning for the first time in nearly two decades – while other familiar corporate faces, such as Volkswagen, intend to sit on the sidelines.
But there’s growing speculation about whether Fiat Chrysler will stage a return to the big game’s annual ad fest. Several insiders have suggested a big “surprise” is in store. That would be in keeping with the maker’s past strategy, starting with the unexpected 2:00 minute commercial that ran four years ago featuring rap star Eminem.
If Chrysler does return for Super Bowl XLIX, it won’t be alone in stretching out its message. Nissan is teasing an extended commercial of its own planned for the game.
Chrysler’s dark and moody 2011 mini-film ostensibly was meant to introduce the maker’s then-new Chrysler 200 model. But it also served as a public declaration that Chrysler was back after its 2009 bankruptcy. And, with its tagline, “Imported from Detroit,” the commercial also declared to the world that the Motor City itself was in recovery mode.
Every year since, Chrysler has followed with long-form spots, often with unexpected celebrities serving up the pitch. In 2012, the recovery theme was picked up by Clint Eastwood, expanding the message to focus on the challenges facing the overall U.S. economy. Last year, legendary folk singer Bob Dylan crooned for Chrysler in another long-form commercial.
The huge cost of advertising on the Super Bowl – with spots this year going for an estimated $4.5 million for just 30 seconds of air time – the value to advertisers has long been debated. There’s little doubt that Chrysler’s unusual creative approach has drawn plenty of attention both during and after the game – the Eminem spot alone generating tens of millions of additional views on YouTube, for example. And the maker has seen a huge growth in sales since 2011.
Nonetheless, with Volkswagen and others who pulling out of the game this year, many thought Chrysler might also have been priced out of Super Bowl XLIX. Running multiple, extended-length ads would eat up a large chunk of its overall 2015 ad budget, after all.
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But the maker, it turns out, still has some time reserved during the game. That doesn’t mean it absolutely will take to the field, so to speak. There’s a long list of potential advertisers willing to snap up any air time that comes available, according to ad industry sources. Still, the Super Bowl has been an effective tool for a carmaker willing to break with traditional auto marketing.
For his part, FCA’s Chief Marketing Officer Olivier Francois has been mum in recent weeks. The closest he’s come to any direct confirmation came in October, when he told the Detroit Free Press, “We will be part of it as long as we have something to say and something to say which is truthful to who we are and the FCA culture of doing things with a purpose and differently.”
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Separately, Francois has told TheDetroitBureau.com that some of the Chrysler Super Bowl spots came together late and quite quickly. He personally went out in a heavy snow storm in late December 2010 to meet with Eminem to lock down the deal that led to the first long-form commercial. It would not surprise many observers if the company spent this week editing down a new spot, deciding only as it came together to take it to air.
Considering the cost of putting an ad on the Super Bowl – and the risk that implies for a spot that isn’t well received – most advertisers have continued to stick with the time-test formula of using humorous 30-second pitches.
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But at least one other automaker is planning to go long-form this year. Nissan originally said it would go with a 60-second spot dubbed “With Dad.” It has now decided to extend the spot, which plucks at heartstrings, to 90 seconds. It has already released a 10-second teaser on YouTube which, it says, “depicts a couple having a baby and images of the dad working as a race car driver mixed to a soundtrack of Harry Chapin’s iconic song, ‘Cat’s In the Cradle.’”
One response to “Fiat Chrysler May be Back in the Big Game After All”
What a pity… I sure would not want him as a spokes person for my company.