FCA’s 5 spots add power to muted Super Bowl lineup

on Feb3

Heading into the weekend, it appeared the Super Bowl would be running low on octane this year.

Only four brands had committed to the game broadcast, so a noticeable lack of chrome, revving engines and burning rubber was expected on advertising’s biggest stage.

Then Fiat Chrysler Automobiles jumped in Friday afternoon with a huge five-commercial haul for the Jeep and Ram brands that’ll be dispersed across all four quarters of the game.

FCA has a proud record of attention-grabbing ads, including the gritty “Halftime in America” spot starring Clint Eastwood in 2012 and the “Born of Fire” two-minute ad in 2011 that featured rapper Eminem.

In a year where the auto roster is thinner than usual, FCA will be in position to hog the spotlight again.

The automaker said its first spot will air during the first quarter; the second and third spots will air in the second quarter; the fourth spot will air in the third quarter; and the fifth spot will air during the fourth quarter.

Hyundai, Kia, Lexus and Toyota will also have ads during the Super Bowl this year, pushing the brand count to six. That’s down from the nine brands that appeared in 2016 and 2017. In 2015, 10 brands ran spots.

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One reason some automakers are skipping the Big Game: The even bigger games that follow — the Winter Olympics in Korea begin Feb. 9 and will command prime-time TV audiences for two weeks.

Ford ran a Super Bowl spot last year, but is bypassing the game this time around even though it has the freshly launched EcoSport crossover to hawk. The automaker will instead run EcoSport ads during the Winter Olymics broadcasts on NBC.

Chevrolet is attaching itself to the Olympics, too. General Motors or one of its brands has been an official sponsor or partner of the Olympics several times since the 1980s. While not an official partner in recent years, Chevrolet has been especially prominent during both the summer and winter games. It last appeared during the Super Bowl in 2015 with a spot just before kickoff that simulated a blackout.

Toyota is doing a double-dip to support its major investment in a global Olympics sponsorship as official mobility partner. It’s running three Super Bowl commercials, two of which will center on the company’s sponsorship of the Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games.

Other brands such as Audi, Buick and Honda said their product cadences simply didn’t line up with a Super Bowl promotion.

Buick made its Super Bowl debut in 2016 and returned for another round in 2017 with a spot featuring Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.

“Advertising in the Super Bowl served Buick well the past two years when the timing worked with the brand’s business objectives and campaign storytelling,” Buick said in an emailed statement to Automotive News. “However, every year we re-evaluate all media spending, including Super Bowl, and make media placement decisions based on our business priorities, product lifecycles, and planned advertising campaigns.”

Buick says the brand will focus on “continuing the momentum” throughout the year around the recently launched Buick Enclave and building enthusiasm for the new Regal lineup, including the Regal Sportback, Regal TourX and Regal GS.

Audi told Ad Age, a sibling publication of Automotive News, that it is focusing its “marketing efforts later in the year when our new models reach the market.”

A Honda spokeswoman told Automotive News that the Super Bowl “didn’t align well with the timing of our product launch activities.”

This year’s auto ads will mix in entertaining storylines involving a superhero and a rock legend along with more heartfelt themes around pediatric cancer and overcoming adversity.

Hyundai

Hyundai isn’t pushing metal during the game this year.

Dean Evans, the brand’s chief marketing officer, said there’s plenty of time to do that throughout the year. Instead, he said, Hyundai wants to use the Super Bowl platform to relay a more impactful message to the world.

The automaker will highlight its Hyundai Hope on Wheels initiative, which is focused on finding a cure for pediatric cancers. The 60-second spot will air in the fourth quarter.

Hyundai’s ad will include footage captured earlier in the day. Its agency of record, Innocean USA, is producing the spot.

Brands can leave a lasting impression with viewers without hawking products, said Steven Sottile, president of Unruly, an ad tech company. He pointed to last year’s Hyundai’s spot, where the brand reunited U.S. soldiers stationed in Zagan, Poland, with their families using 360-degree virtual-reality pods.

“We’ve seen it time and again. We saw it last year with Hyundai. It’s going to spark the interest to research more to find out more and really raise the profile of the brand to one that is committed to bettering the lives of Americans,” Sottile told Automotive News.

Kia

Kia is going back to its celebrity strategy for its ad. The spot will feature the 2018 Stinger sport sedan, and star Brazilian racing icon Emerson Fittipaldi and Aerosmith rocker Steven Tyler.

The commercial was supervised by “Born of Fire” author Saad Chehab, vice president of marketing and communications, who parted ways with Fiat Chrysler in 2015 and joined Kia Motors America in May.

Lexus

Lexus is drawing on its alignment with Marvel superhero film “Black Panther” in a spot showcasing the LS 500 F Sport and LC 500. A risk is that the cars could be overshadowed by the film connection.

“That’s always a risk when you’re aligning with a major event like a movie release,” Sottile said. “What will be interesting is if consumers make the connection between Lexus and the trailer itself.”

Toyota

Toyota will attempt to define itself as a mobility company in one ad, while chronicling the determination of Canadian Paralympic skier Lauren Woolstencroft in another.

The Woolstencroft spot continues Toyota’s “Start Your Impossible” Olympics campaign.

The Toyota campaign illustrates how automakers can communicate the idea of mobility to consumers in a creative way, said Mike Bernacchi, a marketing professor at the University of Detroit Mercy.

“Mobility is an important message,” he said. “I like the idea of not just rolling a lineup of cars out.”

The topic of the third ad hasn’t been revealed, but it will be released ahead of the game.



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