Alfa Romeo Dominated Super Bowl LI With Perfectly Executed Ad Campaign

Mon, Feb 6, 2017 2,045

In the wake of Super Bowl LI, many people undoubtedly will be reflecting on the amazing second-half comeback by Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. But we want to discuss another organization that also had a stand-out performance during the big game: Alfa Romeo.

Alfa ran a game-long marketing campaign, sponsoring the half time report, advertising on-screen during the broadcast and running three separate commercials. In doing so, the Italian manufacturer used the perfect strategy to achieve its goal of generating awareness ahead of a crucial year in its return to the U.S. market.

During the week leading up to the game, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles revealed it was airing three ads, but wouldn’t say which of its brands the commercials would be for. That gave us our first indication the marque in question would be Alfa Romeo, as FCA typically doesn’t try to build up anticipation around commercials for its more well-known brands.

While suspense was a useful tactic to generate buzz among enthusiasts, FCA used the Super Bowl itself as a way to garner the attention of a wider audience by carefully timing each of its in-game promotional efforts.

On-screen ads
During the first quarter, the Alfa Romeo logo was featured on multiple graphics. Although that caught our attention right away, most people probably didn’t consciously notice it — and that’s the point. Even if you were focused on the statistics in the graphics, your mind subconsciously noticed the Alfa badge. As a result, even people unfamiliar with Alfa Romeo were more-inclined to pay attention to the subsequent commercial it aired in the second quarter.

“Riding Dragons”

The formula for advertising is completely flipped on its head for the Super Bowl, and Alfa Romeo clearly understands that. Unlike traditional TV spots that focus on persuading consumers to buy, Super Bowl ads are meant to tell a story and usually don’t introduce the product until the middle of the commercial.

Because Alfa is returning to the U.S. after an absence of nearly two decades, the company wisely used its first spot to tell its own story: From winning the 1950 and 1951 Formula 1 driver championships, to launching the 2017 Giulia sedan. The story clearly resonated with people, considering “Riding Dragons” was the No. 34 trending video on YouTube as of 11:15 a.m. ET on Monday.

Half time report
Half time came not too long after “Riding Dragons” aired, so the brand was still fresh in viewers’ minds. To further reinforce it during the intermission, Alfa Romeo sponsored the half time report, meaning its name was read before and after commercial breaks, and its logo was prominently displayed on the broadcast desk.

“Dear Predictable”

With its brand name front of mind, Alfa Romeo then focused on creating awareness for the Giulia, which will rival the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. To set itself apart from its German competitors, however, Alfa designed “Dear Predictable” to be evocative, rather than exciting.

Alfa used plenty of dynamic action shots like other premium automakers do, but it combined them with voice overs that were meant to generate an emotional connection to the Giulia. It also did this by using more slow-moving footage shot near scenic vineyards, and the famous Stelvio Pass in Italy. While many manufacturers film at locations that aren’t easily identifiable, Alfa did so in Italy to further differentiate itself.


Just as it continually reinforced its brand throughout the game, Alfa Romeo ran a second commercial to cement the Giulia in people’s minds. “Mozzafiato” was filmed in much the same way as “Dear Predictable,” only this time Alfa was much less-subtle in its attempt to stand apart from its rivals. Most premium manufacturers’ commercials talk about how exhilarating it is to drive their cars, but Alfa emphasized that the Giulia’s performance allows you to form a connection with your car.

Thumbnail photo via Fiat Chrysler Automobiles