The new Toledo-built Jeep Wrangler was featured in a pair of Fiat Chrysler’s five Super Bowl ads on Sunday, with a minute-long spot that tied in with the Wrangler’s cameo role in the original Jurassic Park film and a shorter spot that toned down the production in favor of a water-fording, rock-crawling Wrangler Rubicon.
That commercial, titled “Anti-Manifesto” and airing during the fourth quarter, drew praise from ad-watchers as one of the night’s best spots.
“It was kind of an anti-Super Bowl style, which usually uses humor or animation or celebrities,” said Robert Kolt, an advertising and public relations instructor at Michigan State University. “Congratulations to Jeep for selling a good product in a simple way.”
Rather than over-the-top plaudits or booming music, the 30-second spot was heavy on ambient sound and had limited narration as a firecracker red Wrangler plowed through a thigh-deep river and bounced up a jagged waterfall.
Mr. Kolt, who is also the chief executive of Michigan-based Kolt Communications, is part of a group from MSU’s Department of Advertising and Public Relations that has been gathering to rate Super Bowl commercials for more than two decades.
The group put the spot at No. 5 for the night.
“I think the Wrangler ad was simple, understandable, memorable and can have a long-term impact for sales of the brand,” Mr. Kolt said.
The other ad featuring the Wrangler, which ran during the game’s third quarter and starred Jeff Goldblum, was a sort of cross-promotional piece for both the new Jeep and the upcoming Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom film that comes out this summer.
The spot started with about 10 seconds of footage from the 1993 film — which made use of a fleet Wrangler YJs — before transitioning to a daydreaming Goldblum piloting the new Wrangler through the jungles of Isla Nublar in an effort to evade a very angry tyrannosaurus rex.
While fun, it may not have the staying power of the earlier Wrangler spot.
“Jurassic Park was interesting, unique, and will probably be an effective promotion and product link,” Mr. Kolt said. “But this kind of ad requires some repetition to be successful so we really need to see an ongoing campaign after the game to work well.”
Even so, Kelley Blue Book said the commercial resulted in a big spike in interest about the Wrangler. Following the ad running, KBB said it saw a 424 percent increase in traffic on its site for the Wrangler. The later “Anti-Manifesto” commercial gave Jeep a 198 percent boost.
Denny Amrhein, managing partner at Grogan's Towne Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Toledo, said dealers are always happy to see their products featured in Super Bowl commercials, though it doesn’t necessarily bring an immediate flood of buyers.
“It just gives them something to think about if they’re interested,” he said.
Even so, he praised both Wrangler ads.
“The Jeep ads were phenomenal,” Mr. Amrhein said. “I think everybody watches the Super Bowl to watch the commercials. Both of them went over really big.”
Fiat Chrysler also devoted two minute-long commercials to the new Ram pickup — a humorous spot featuring vikings and a brand-image spot that overlaid audio from a Martin Luther King, Jr., speech on service that was given 50 years ago to the day.
That ad drew some criticism on social media, with many people questioning the motivation of using the words of a civil rights icon to sell pickup trucks.
Ram, for its part, put out a statement on Twitter that said it had worked closely with the Martin Luther King, Jr., estate in putting the commercial together and that it was meant to highlight Dr. King’s philosophy that greatness comes from serving others.
The fifth FCA advertisement featured the refreshed Jeep Cherokee.
Overall, the group at Michigan State ranked the Amazon Alexa commercial — in which Amazon’s digital assistant loses her voice and a number of celebrities fill in — as the night’s best, noting it was a cute commercial that should have a long life beyond the Super Bowl.
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