Fiat Chrysler to air two Super Bowl 50 ads

Michael Wayland
The Detroit News

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV will air two commercials Sunday during Super Bowl 50.

The automaker said Thursday the first spot is scheduled to air between the halftime performance featuring Coldplay and the beginning of the third quarter. The second spot will air during the first commercial break in the fourth quarter.

Fiat Chrysler did not announce any details of the ads — a typical move by the company in recent years.

This will be the sixth-consecutive year that Fiat Chrysler advertises during a Super Bowl under Chief Marketing Officer Olivier Francois, who burst onto the scene with the critically acclaimed 2011 “Born of Fire” ad featuring Detroit rapper Eminem for the Chrysler 200.

Since then, the company has aired at least two minutes of ads for nearly all of its brands, with Jeep being featured the most times. The automaker has yet to air an ad for Alfa Romeo, which is a possibility for Sunday’s game as its all-new 2017 Giulia midsize sedan arrives in dealerships later this year after several delays.

Other new vehicles the company could tap for a spot include the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider, Maserati Levante crossover and 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivan. However, Francois last month said advertising for the Pacifica was expected to start in April — closer to its arrival in showrooms.

“You would have a huge audience but at the same time you need to have a product in the market, otherwise you waste your opportunities,” he told reporters when asked about using the Pacifica in a Super Bowl 50 ad.

The automaker hasn’t always spotlighted a vehicle, instead opting to spotlight the entire company, which was the case in 2012’s “It’s Halftime in America,” a patriotic ad featuring a pep talk from Clint Eastwood.

Fiat Chrysler joins a crowded field of automotive ads for Super Bowl 50 that includes eight other auto brands airing 10 ads.

Acura, Audi, Buick, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mini and Toyota all will air at least one commercial. Sitting on the sidelines are Ford, Volkswagen and others.

All brands except Toyota and newcomer Buick have released their official commercials online prior to the game, as brands attempt get as much traction as they can for the estimated $5 million per 30-second spot.

Michigan State University advertising and public relations professor Robert Kolt, a specialist in Super Bowl ads, argues Fiat Chrysler has been able to cut through the clutter and make the investment worthwhile.

“Is $5 million worth 30 seconds in the Super Bowl? I would say if it really turns around the company and makes the sale long after it airs, it’s a great investment,” he said. “And it did for Chrysler. Chrysler was really on the rocks when that Eminem spot appeared.”

Market research firm Kantar Media reports that over the past 10 years, Fiat Chrysler has been the third-biggest spender during the Super Bowl: Anheuser-Busch InBev is tops at a combined $278.3 million; Pepsico Inc. spent $172 million; Fiat Chrysler spent $139.9 million; Coca-Cola Co. spent $118.4 million; and General Motors Co. spent $86.8 million.

Following Eminem in 2011 and Eastwood in 2012, the company aired two ads spanning four minutes in 2013, including the cinematic “Farmer” ad for Ram Truck and “Whole Again” with Oprah Winfrey as a voiceover for Jeep.

The most time the automaker has bought was four-and-a-half minutes in 2014 for three ads: “America’s Import” with Bob Dylan for the Chrysler 200; “Strike” for the Maserati Ghibli; and “Restlessness” for Jeep.

Last year the company aired commercials for the Fiat 500X, Jeep Renegade and Dodge brand. It was the first year no major celebrities were featured with any of the ads.

mwayland@detroitnews.com

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