* Automaker using patriotism to rehabilitate image
* Chrysler spent an estimated $20 million for two
* Ads among most positively reviewed, talked about on social
By Ben Klayman and Jennifer Saba
DETROIT/NEW YORK, Feb 4 Chrysler Group LLC was
once again one of the big winners in the Super Bowl ad battle,
scoring with a military-themed spot narrated by Oprah Winfrey
and another highlighting farmers that underscored the
automaker's attempts to rehabilitate its image by playing to
The commercials Chrysler aired during Sunday's Super Bowl
continued a winning trend that started two years ago with a spot
featuring Eminem and last year's popular two-minute ad starring
"Chrysler has now identified itself with an auteur style,"
said Robert Thompson, professor of television and popular
culture at Syracuse University. "You can spot a Chrysler ad from
a quarter of the game away."
Chrysler has used the last three Super Bowls as a canvas to
reinvent its image after emerging from bankruptcy in 2009 under
the control of Italy's Fiat SpA. This year's ads
saluted U.S. troops and farmers as a way to tout the Jeep and
Ram truck brands. Both ads scored highly in media polls after
"Chrysler is really focused on building their brands on an
emotional level," said Tim Calkins, a professor at Northwestern
University's Kellogg School of Management who oversees an annual
Super Bowl ad review panel.
The Jeep ad entitled "Whole Again" - which encouraged
support of U.S. troops returning home from duty overseas and was
narrated by Winfrey - scored one of only six grades of "A" in
the Northwestern panel.
The ad ran during halftime immediately after the performance
by singer Beyonce, in the same spot where the company received
raves last year for Eastwood's "Halftime in America" commercial.
The Ram truck's "Farmer" spot ran during the fourth quarter.
Chrysler Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne flew about 10
hours from meetings in Europe so he could attend a company party
at a bar, where senior management and their families watched the
ads being aired during the Super Bowl.
The company said in its 2011 annual report that the improved
brand equity generated by such campaigns as the Eminem
commercial, which touted the comeback of Detroit while showing
its American-made Chrysler 200 sedan, have helped boost demand
for higher-profit vehicles.
While Chrysler may be controlled by an Italian company,
Marchionne assured Detroit radio station WJR in a Monday
interview that the automaker "is as American as it was when it
was founded and it will stay that way forever.
"Those commercials, by the way, as much as I think they're
important for the brands and for the positioning of the group
are equally important for the re-grounding of our own people,"
added Marchionne, who was heavily involved in the development of
the Eminem ad two years ago.
Chrysler did not immediately answer questions about how the
ads were created.
TOUGH ACT TO FOLLOW
Super Bowl advertisers paid CBS Corp, which
broadcast the Baltimore Ravens victory over the San Francisco
49ers, an average of $4 million for a 30-second spot.
Even with discounts, Chrysler spent more than $20 million
for its two ads, Horizon Media analyst Brad Adgate estimated.
That would be up from the $14.6 million and $12.4 million Kantar
Media estimated the No. 3 U.S. automaker spent on Super Bowl ads
in 2012 and 2011.
The focus on Jeep and Ram trucks during the NFL game was
natural given that Chrysler's launch of its Dodge Dart small car
has underperformed expectations, said IHS Automotive analyst
Mike Wall. "You really want to push your strengths right now."
Last year, Eastwood intoned that Chrysler's turnaround could
be used as an example for the United States as it struggled with
high unemployment and slow economic growth.
"They had a very tough act to follow with Clint Eastwood,"
Horizon Media's Adgate said. "It puts in the minds of viewers
that Chrysler's back ... that through all the financial
difficulties that company has had, they're still here and making
Chrysler's ads aligned with its brands, analysts said. The
Jeep spot aligned with the U.S. military - fitting given the
brand's birth as a military vehicle during World War Two - while
the Ram truck matched up with the tough farmers.
Chrysler is one of the few companies that use two-minute ads
and it has not resorted to humor in its messages, a strategy
most Super Bowl advertisers use, analysts said. Most TV
commercials run between 30 seconds - particularly during the
Super Bowl when rates are so expensive - and a minute.
The Jeep ad was created by Detroit's GlobalHue, which has
been Jeep's agency since 2009, while the Ram truck ad was
handled by Dallas-based The Richards Group, which has handled
the truck account since late 2009.
The Ram truck ad, which included a soundtrack by radio
commentator Paul Harvey from a 1978 speech about farmers, was
the most talked about Super Bowl ad on Twitter and Facebook in
the 45 minutes after it aired, according to Bluefin Labs, which
tracks consumer sentiment about TV commercials via social media.
The Jeep ad ranked 14th in the Bluefin poll, but had a
higher rate of positive comments, 40 percent to 38 percent. The
Eastwood ad last year ranked No. 2 with a 59 percent positive
The two ads this year ranked in the top five in USA Today's
Ad Meter results, and in the top 10 among the most searched
Super Bowl ads on Yahoo.
Keeping up that kind of performance gets tougher every year,
Marchionne told WJR. "I'm really worried now about 2014."