DETROIT Chrysler Group LLC is hoping to catch its rivals off guard during the Super Bowl by running an unusual two-minute commercial during the most heavily watched television event of the year.
The automaker plans to run the ad during the third quarter of the National Football League's championship game on Sunday, being played by the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers, Chrysler Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne said on Friday at a J.D. Power conference in San Francisco.
He said it is the longest ad in Super Bowl history.
"A two-minute spot is incredibly unique in the world of advertising, and it is almost unheard of on the Super Bowl," said Tim Calkins, a marketing professor at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. He said it appeared Chrysler was trying to distinguish itself from other carmakers advertising during the Super Bowl.
Chrysler, managed by Italy's Fiat, emerged from bankruptcy in 2009 with the help of U.S. government loans. The company expects to be profitable this year.
"Any time you can put a two-minute ad in ... the most expensive television show of the year, it's a message to the viewing public," said Brad Adgate, senior vice president of research at ad buyer Horizon Media. "You associate yourself with a blue-chip event so that in the mind-set of consumers, you're a blue-chip car."
News Corp's Fox is charging an estimated $2.8 million to $3 million for 30-second spots during the Super Bowl. But Marchionne said Chrysler had spent less than $9 million for its two-minute ad, which was created by the Wieden+Kennedy agency.
Carmakers are expected to account for more than a quarter of this year's Super Bowl commercial time, roughly twice as much as in 2010, reflecting improving fortunes of the U.S. auto industry.
The game is a chance for the industry to pitch about 100 million viewers, most of whom watch it live. Last year, it attracted 106.5 million viewers, the biggest American TV audience in history.
"This is going to be the most-watched two-minute ad in television history," Adgate predicted.
In a poll of Super Bowl viewers last year, television audience researcher Nielsen found that 51 per cent of them tuned in more to watch the commercials than the game itself.
General Motors Co, which emerged from bankruptcy protection in 2009 with government help and had an IPO in November, will run five 30-second ads during the Super Bowl.
Others automakers scheduled to run ads during the game are Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Hyundai Motor Co and its Kia affiliate, Volkswagen AG and its Audi unit, and Suzuki Motor Corp.
Mercedes and Kia are each slated to run one-minute ads, an approach Chrysler took last year in its only Super Bowl ad for its Dodge brand.
(Additional reporting by Deepa Seetharaman and Bernie Woodall in San Francisco)