The hardest-working Super Bowl commercial was…

There’s a brand that’s in trouble. It’s been making shoddy products for years. It was (and maybe still is) at the brink of failure. It needs not just a Hail Mary, but a succession of them.

Wieden + Kennedy may have answered at least one of those prayers with its work for Chrysler, the first-ever 2-minute Super Bowl commercial.

A Super Bowl commercial must work much like any other marketing communication. It has to speak to the right people, on a matter that’s relevant, in terms they understand, and be compelling. It has to address a need in the client’s sales process, or sales funnel.

Do you think another Super Bowl spot worked better than Chrysler’s?
Please comment at the end of this post. Or email me directly.

But the Super Bowl comes with extra burdens: It creates more pressure to make impact than any other venue in the world of advertising. Everyone’s watching. Even if they’re not watching the game, they’re watching online. They’re FB’ing, Tweeting and emailing. They’re even blogging. You mess up, you’ve done more than waste time, money and opportunity. You can embarrass your brand.

And you must justify the huge cost of placement (about $3 million per half minute) and production. For instance: Imagine what you could do with interactive and social media with the $6 million a one-minute spot costs to run, plus (for instance) $3 million to produce and another million to promote the whole thing. My half-educated guess in Chrysler’s case, is that the effort cost well over $15 million: $12 million for air time alone. I have no idea how much Eminem costs.

I am not a fan of TV advertising in general, or Super Bowl advertising in particular. But in this case, Chrysler and W+K found a way to make America sit up, pay attention and think about Chrysler – something few beside creditors have done much of for the past decade. I’m not sure they could do the same thing in social media, since they lack a game-changing product along the lines of the Prius or the Mini.

Any Super Bowl ad is a gamble. Chrysler improved its odds by partnering with one of advertising’s all-time great agencies. Well done all around.

3 thoughts on “The hardest-working Super Bowl commercial was…

  1. I think you’re right. At the beginning of the commercial I thought, “Detroit is the very last place I would ever want to visit.” By the end of it, I had started to think about how the city fits into our history as a nation (even though I still disagree with the lifeline we threw).

  2. I love the ad as an absolutely wonderfully done short film. Everyone involved in it should take a well-deserved bow.

    It is pretty funny that one of the strongest lines is that people criticize Detroit without even having been there, and the ad turns out to have been done by a Washington State agency!

    I wonder how many of them had visited Detroit before making the ad.

    That being said, I can’t say I accept the premise that luxury has anything to do with a city that has “gone to hell and back”. What concrete features in any luxury cars are inspired by Detroit’s current plight? Why does where a car is built have anything to do with how luxurious or well engineered it is?

    Just wondering …


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