During the 2014 Super Bowl, viewers were a bit shocked and surprised when they witnessed an ad from Maserati touting the new Ghibli sports sedan. This is the first Super Bowl commercial that has aired from the newly formed Fiat Chrysler Automobiles group, and genuinely caught a lot of people off guard. After the commercial aired, Twitter and Facebook exploded with people complementing FCA on a great commercial, or criticizing heavily that Super Bowl watchers aren’t the target audience. Let’s take a few minutes to break down the commercial and try to make sense of it.
The Maserati Ghibli
The Ghibli is a luxury sports sedan from Maserati. That means that along with having four doors, it has an Italian soul and a great exhaust noise. Starting at $66,900, the Ghibli is actually quite inexpensive for a Maserati. It features a 3.0L V6 engine, rear-wheel drive, and an Italian flair. While not particularly fast for the price, the Ghibli will get from 0.60 in 5.6 seconds (per Maserati). 404hp is on tap, and is more than enough for most daily commutes.
Competition for the Ghibli would be the BMW 5 Series (somewhere between the 535i and the 550i). The BMW 550i, which makes about 80hp more, is $3,000 less expensive. From the Audi camp, the A6 and S6 are the closest competition. The horsepower on the Ghibli, again in this case, falls in between the two models.
Our friends over at Autoblog took it out last summer and were impressed with what it had to offer. They appreciated the 50/50 weight distribution and the Italian charm.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles does own and operate Maserati. In terms of sales volumes, the Maserati brand sells significantly fewer vehicles than the competition from Audi and BMW. In the past, Maseratis were incredibly expensive and were purchased by the same people who would purchase Lamborghinis and Ferraris. With the Ghibli, Maserati is trying to go a bit more mainstream and enter the sports sedan market at a lower entry point.
Throughout the commercial, which you can watch above, a boy is talking about how it isn’t important to be the strongest. It is important to be the smartest. It is more important to bide your time and wait for the perfect time to strike. When the competition gets too big and heavy, they start to make bad decisions. This is clearly targeting current luxury makers, who offer cars from the inexpensive to the very expensive.
When the giants are resting on their laurels, thinking they are unstoppable, is the appropriate time to strike. Maserati is offering their Ghibli as a strike against the establishment, providing a luxury experience with sporting credentials. They also are offering something the Germans cannot; charm.
Italian and British Cars are Special
We believe that when purchasing a vehicle, buying something from a German automaker is buying with your brain. Reliability (especially under warranty) is superb, fit and finish is excellent, and so on. They are the smart choice. When someone purchases an Italian or British car, they are purchasing it with their heart. There is a certain X factor with these cars when driving them that very few other automakers can successfully pull off. Long-term, reliability is abysmal on Italian and British vehicles (though it is getting much, much better).
However, none of that matters because you are in love with the car. It pulls at your heart the way no other cars do. That is the appeal of a British or Italian vehicle, and in many cases why they can command a price premium over their competition.
After the commercial aired, there was definitely a firestorm on Twitter…
all of america right now: 1) google maserati 2) look up the ghibli 3) discover it’s an $80K car 4) close laptop, go back to game
— Chris Ziegler (@zpower) February 2, 2014
— David Undercoffler (@LATimes_driven) February 3, 2014
Everyone is America is wondering if Ghibli is something you order at a restaurant.
— William Maley (@realmudmonster) February 2, 2014
Some people are definitely shocked that a car company would advertise a $67,000 vehicle during the Super Bowl. However, there was not nearly as much of a firestorm when Jaguar aired their Good To Be Bad F-Type R commercial. That vehicle starts at a cool $99,000.
Perhaps a failing of the Ghibli ad is lacking to mention that this is the most affordable Maserati yet? While Bud Light drinking football fans might not be interested in, or can afford, such a vehicle, that there are many football fans in the country that are and can. Yes, it is rare to see an Italian car commercial during the Super Bowl (it was Maserati’s first ever), but the naysayers who believe that the right people weren’t watching the ad I believe are mistaken.
Now, was the commercial effective? Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is a fairly big company themselves, so calling themselves the underdog is a bit of an overstatement. However, Maserati as a brand is a niche product. When looking just at the product, the commercial makes more sense. However, despite showing off a great-sounding engine and a couple of fast sequences, most information about the vehicle is actually left out.
People clearly did Google the vehicle and visited the website to find out more information, but this commercial was designed to speak to my heart, and not my mind. Does that make it a sales winning commercial? I don’t know. But if the commercial speaks to my heart, and Italian cars speak to my heart, there is a possibility that it will lead to a sale from other like-hearted people out there.