Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will sit out its first Super Bowl since 2009, leaving the game without the high-profile advertiser known for big-budgeted, celebrity-filled spots.
The automaker confirmed its plans today, saying it would pursue a digital-only strategy including seven online ads that it described as a "big game blitz." It is a major change in strategy for FCA and Chief Marketing Officer Olivier Francois, who has made his name by filling the Super Bowl with ads starring the likes of Clint Eastwood and Eminem. But this year, Francois is operating under a new CEO, Mike Manley, who took the reins last summer after Sergio Marchionne became seriously ill and later died.
By bypassing TV, the automaker will save the estimated $5 million per 30 seconds of ad time that in-game spots cost. Last year, FCA ran five ads during the game.
In a press release announcing this year's plans, Francois made a football analogy. "We feel like the football teams who must constantly change their strategy to make it to Sunday night's match-up," he said. "But unlike them, we don't need to be in the Big Game to change the game."
He added: "With this new approach, we are able to engage with the audience through more creative executions than ever before leading up to this Sunday night."
Some of the digital ads, which are for Dodge, Jeep and Ram, carry themes associated with the game. The automaker began releasing them earlier this week across its digital and social channels, including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
A spokeswoman did not respond to a question about what kind of paid support they will get. Three of the digital ads were released on Tuesday from The Richards Group, DDB Chicago and Doner.
The seven videos that debuted across the Dodge, Jeep and Ram brand social channels this week can be viewed below.