Fiat-Chrysler Desperately Grasps at Relevance with Super Bowl LII Ads

FCA's newest batch of Super Bowl promos may be the least effective yet.

2019 Ram 1500 Rebel
FCA US LLC—© 2017 FCA US LLC

For quite a few years, Chrysler has relied on ads played during the Super Bowl. In 2011, it ran commercials featuring rapper and Detroit native Eminem. The next year, Clint Eastwood gave the audience a rousing speech, using football as a metaphor for America’s hardships. He claims that “America’s second half is about to begin,” just before Chrysler's major brands are flashed on-screen. Those two really represent the best of Fiat-Chrysler’s ads. They’re well crafted, emotional, and probably drove more than a few sales. Today, there are a brand new batch of FCA Super Bowl ads, and most of them fall short of that mark.

FCA’s focus this year seems to be on the Ram and Jeep brands. When you look at its recent sales figures, it’s no wonder why. It ran five ads, three for Jeep, and two for Ram. Let’s get the rundown on each of them.

The first commercial features a group of vikings using a Ram truck to tow their boat, with a remix of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” playing in the background. This ad was obviously made because people like Queen, but what’s with the vikings? Are they big with the kids? Is this supposed to be a tie-in with that History Channel show? None of it really makes sense.

Then there’s this ad, repurposing a famous speech from Martin Luther King. Almost every aspect of this promo is glaringly tone-deaf. Someone at the advertising agency actually thought that Dr. King’s words would better hit home if they were punctuated by a big V-8 revving. The video then passed through focus groups and several offices, both of which approved it to go on-air. The backlash to this ad has been pretty significant. With many viewers expressing their dissatisfaction online. Cynical is the best way to describe it. FCA cynically wanted to connect its brand to the Civil Rights Movements, because that is something that’s pretty popular right now. It makes one wonder if the Eminem and Clint Eastwood weren’t created with equal cynicism.

Then, there's not much to complain about with this Jeep ad. A narrator that sounds like an off-brand Clint Eastwood talks about roads. In a nutshell, he says that you should get away from roads, drive your Jeep through a stream, and chart your own path.

In this next one, though, there’s a lot to complain about. With a new Star Wars film coming out seemingly every month, and all your childhood favorites getting poorly re-packaged, it’s pretty clear that nostalgia-bait is an easy advertising tactic. In this commercial, Jeff Goldblum drives a brand new 2018 Jeep Wrangler to escape from a CGI T-Rex. To really get the intended experience from this ad, you have to give your friend a megaphone and make them shout “Remember Jurassic Park?!” into your ears repeatedly. It’s just terrible, but at least Jeff Goldblum got paid.

Now, there’s the final ad, which Jeep has dubbed “Anti-Manifesto” This is the most simple, by far. It’s 40 seconds of a Wrangler fording a stream to no music. A narrator then calls out all the other companies that run “manifestos.” Manifestos are ads that use things like swelling music, rousing speeches, and overly emotional footage to drive their point home. The irony is almost too much to bear. The MLK spot that ran on Sunday can definitely be described as a manifesto, as well as the famous Eminem and Clint Eastwood commercials. Chrysler, If you’re going to poke fun at other companies for using cheap tactics to sell their cars, make sure that you’re not guilty of using those exact same tactics. As of this writing, the simple ad has about 98,000 views, while the Jurassic Park one has over 1.5 Million.

Overall, Chrysler’s usual shtick of paper-thin patriotism and inspirational music is getting pretty old, but that’s just one man’s opinion. As long as trucks and SUVs continue to sell, Jeep and Ram will keep churning out the same old cynical commercials.

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