I am not certain which ad was the absolute best, but the Chrysler ad was definitely a winner. There are dozens of scorecards naming the best Super Bowl ad and all had very different rankings and winners. The problem is that no single measure applied to the general population can be used to compare ads or even measure a single ad.
An ad’s success will depend on the type of category the advertiser is in, its current image and market position, the ad’s communication objective, and the target audience. At best, consumers can identify ads that entertained, moved or annoyed. Even then, the impact on the target audience may not be apparent.
I was once on a panel with Phil Knight who responded to criticism of a controversial Nike ad campaign by saying that it was only the impact on his target audience that mattered and they respond favorably to something edgy. Having said all that, you have to be impressed with the Chrysler ad with Eminem. It moved the needle with respect to consideration, the centerpiece of becoming relevant.
According to the Edmunds.com, the auto-shopping site, consideration for Chrysler went up 87% compared to the brand’s average on the site during the four weeks prior to the game, much higher than other car ads. This surge was in part do consumer’s interest in the Chrysler 200 rising 463% after the Super Bowl game.
The interest in the Chrysler 300 doubled as well, even though that model was not mentioned in the ad. The ad even created a healthy buzz on social media sites. The Chrysler ad was a gutty departure from what usually is considered good Super Bowl ad strategy. It was a two-minute ad which was expensive to make (estimates of $9 million) as well as expensive to run (with charges of $3 million for 30 seconds). The hero was the city of Detroit, while the car, the Chrysler 200, played a supporting role and the celebrity, the Detroit-based rapper Eminem, a small part in the end.
But portraying Chrysler and Detroit as a gritty, can-do, defiant, fighter that came back to build quality, exciting American cars was compelling stuff . The tagline “Imported from Detroit” capped it off. The ad provided a feeling of pride in an American company (shades of Saturn—a different kind of company, a different kind of car) that could climb out of a tough environment and make something that was competitive.
The ad really stood out as being honest and providing a moving, high-quality viewing experience. The contrast with many of the ads that were silly, outrageous, and full of shock appeal made it even better. I can’t say that Chrysler was the best, but it surely was one of the winners and somehow it feels good that an “adult” ad that respects the audience did well.