Fiat Chrysler to air 5 ads during Super Bowl
Football fans won’t see any commercials from General Motors Co. or Ford Motor Co. this year during the Super Bowl, but Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will pick up the slack for the Motor City with five spots.
Fiat Chrysler kept its plans under wraps until Friday afternoon, when it promised ads airing during all four quarters. Its Jeep and Ram brands will take center stage, but beyond that, the carmaker is offering no details. Fiat Chrysler has a history of making a splash with offerings like the Eminem “Imported from Detroit”, Ram "Farmer", and Clint Eastwood “It’s Halftime in America” commercials.
The rest of the game will be dominated by foreign and luxury brands, with game-sponsor Hyundai Motor Co. and halftime-sponsor Toyota Motor Co. buying up significant ad time during the game.
Toyota Motor Co.’s Lexus brand dropped an extended cut of its Super Bowl spot on the internet last week, teaming with Marvel Comics to deliver a heart-pounding 30-second ride in a LS 500 F Sport with “Black Panther” star Chadwich Boseman. The spot, called “Long Live the King,” features Boseman as King T’Challa — aka Black Panther — recovering stolen vibranium (the mythical ore from the Black Panther’s home of Wakanda) while he zooms through New York.
While Lexus spotlights superheroes, sister brand Toyota reportedly also has two 30-second slots of its own during the game, though we haven’t seen a teaser yet.
Last year, Hyundai tugged at heart strings with “A Better Super Bowl,” which was shot and edited during the game and aired after the first-ever Super Bowl overtime. The ad showed three active military service members at a base in Poland reunited by video with their families at Houston’s NRG Stadium.
This year the Korean automaker will surprise and thank a different group of heroes: people who have contributed to the fight against pediatric cancer. Hyundai’s charity organization Hyundai Hope On Wheels will air a 60-second spot during the fourth quarter featuring content captured on game day, just like last year.
Hyundai pre-released a lighter commercial for its new Kona crossover that will run during the pre-game show.“Ref to the Rescue” features a referee for a pee-wee soccer game who screeches up in a 2018 Kona before helping parents get home to catch the big game by kicking children out of the soccer event, one-by-one.
Kia is showing off its Stinger performance car in a more classic rubber-on-road ad with Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and set to “Dream On” in reverse. Tyler burns rubber backward around the track and clocks tick backward until he’s transported back to the 1970s — or at least a computer-generated version of the rock icon at 25 years old. “Feel something again,” the ad intones, after a crowd of adoring fans rushes young Tyler on the track.
Kia had one of the most popular commercial last year, with Melissa McCarthy traversing the globe as an eco-warrior in a Niro hybrid crossover.
While Fiat Chrysler has purchased airtime for five commercials, it crosstown rivals at Ford and GM say they haven’t bought any ad time.
Ford’s Lincoln brand chose instead to debut a new Matthew McConaughey commercial for the Navigator during the Grammys last month.
GM’s Buick is sitting out the game this year after two years of tongue-in-cheek “Yes, It’s a Buick” spots with Cam Newton and Odell Beckham Jr.
The absence from American automakers comes as the price of a 30-second spot climbs above $5 million. And it comes after a politicized NFL season marked by low viewership — down nearly 10 percent — and political controversy over players kneeling during the national anthem that drew the ire of President Donald Trump.
University of Detroit Mercy marketing professor Michael Bernacci expects some push-back against the president.
“Maybe some of the commercials will be more sharply spun this year,” he said. “Might it turn off the audience that’s viewing the game? Yes, that certainly could be the case, but on the other hand, who’s to say that won’t enhance viewer interest?”
Bernacci said the automotive industry spent some $70 million on Super Bowl advertising last year, and while he says it doesn’t look like the industry will match that benchmark this year, it will still likely spend more money than any other.
With so many different avenues for audience communication during the game, participation from automakers just might not come in the form of a traditional $5 million 30-second spot.
Mercedes-Benz USA, for example, has an interactive event running throughout the game. It’s spun off the old hand-on-a-car contests once popular with local radio and TV stations. In a campaign the German automaker is calling “Last Fan Standing,” participants are asked to keep their finger on the image of a C43 Coupe on their smartphones. It starts at kickoff, and will surely last well after the final whistle. The last player left touching the car wins it.
“We wanted to get beyond the traditional game-day executions and do something that was more reflective of the social co-viewing phenomena that game-day has become with people alternating between watching the big screen and socializing on the small one,” said Drew Slaven, vice president of marketing for Mercedes-Benz.
But Bernacci believes there’s still something to be said for advertising on the live broadcast.
“We in this society today do everything to avoid watching commercials,” he said. “The Super Bowl is the one time a year when they’re actually part of the entertainment, and that’s very valuable. Water-cooler Monday is the time when folks gather to discuss the ads. These brands are part of the conversation. You can’t get that anywhere else.”