Detroit’s automakers once again used the Super Bowl as a stage to spotlight their newest cars and trucks, and once again, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles stole the show — this time with a paean to American automobile manufacturing starring folk music great Bob Dylan.
“You can’t import an original,” Dylan said in a spot for the new 2015 Chrysler 200, a sedan built by on a platform designed in Italy by a company that just announced that it is moving its legal headquarters to Holland. “Detroit made cars and cars made America.”
But the 200 will be built in Sterling Heights, and Dylan’s spot was rich with gritty footage of the Detroit metro area.
It was not the first time Chrysler has used a high-profile celebrity and feel-good script to obliquely tout its resurgent brand.
In 2011, Chrysler scored a marketing coup with its now-legendary “Imported from Detroit” spot featuring local rapper Eminem. In 2012, the company’s Chief Marketing Officer Olivier Francois topped that with the moving “It’s Halftime in America” ad starring Clint Eastwood. And last year, Chrysler resurrected homespun homily hawker Paul Harvey to narrate a tribute to America’s farmers.
The company also aired a moody ad for the new 2014 Cherokee. It also paved the way for the return of its Maserati brand to the American market with an ad, narrated by Oscar nominated Quvenzhané Wallis, that cast the high-end Italian marque as an underdog ready to do battle with the giants of the luxury segment. Maserati pulled out of the United States in 1990 but will return later this year.
Of course, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was not the only local automaker to take to the airwaves Sunday night.
Before the game even started, Ford Motor Co. stamped its Blue Oval on the pre-game show, which was redubbed the “Ford Fusion Pre-Kick.” The automaker also doubled-down with back-to-back Fusion ads, starring comedian Rob Riggle and actor James Franco. But Ford had no national ad during the game itself.
Ford previously advertised during the game itself (remember Kermit?) but has decided the expense of such ads, which reportedly cost about $4 million for each 30 second slot, just is not worth it anymore.
Not so General Motors Co.
Halfway into Super Bowl XLVIII, the automaker aired two spots for the Chevrolet Silverado Heavy Duty pickup — the first a humorous spot featuring “a man, his truck and a very eligible bachelor” (a stud bull), the second a more a quiet spot highlighting the brand’s commitment on cancer awareness.
Nor were the American automakers the only one’s using Super Bowl XLVIII to showcase their newest products.
Britain’s bespoke Jaguar brand aired its first-ever Super Bowl spot Sunday, a tribute to British villains and the Jaguars they love.
Germany’s Volkswagen and Audi had high-profile spots featuring winged engineers shooting rainbows out of their nether regions as well as terrifying frankendogs.
Toyota aired an ad for the Highlander staring the Muppets (remember Kermit?) and Flint native Terry Crews. And Hyundai ran a spot highlighting the active braking system on its new Genesis.
“This year’s Super Bowl ads are quite good overall. I think agencies have figured out the recipe, whether its humor or heartwarming or a combination of the two,” said Kelley Blue Book analyst Karl Brauer. “Not sure about the Audi or CarMax commercials, as both tried to go for humor but felt more awkward than funny. Otherwise a strong showing for the automakers this year. The trick is to entertainingly convey one or more brand values, and most of them effectively accomplished that.”