Super Bowl

Super Bowl Alert: Chrysler sits out, T-Mobile goes all in

Also, Audi unveils its spot and the cola wars heat up

By Published on .

Good afternoon Super Bowl junkies,

I'm Jeanine Poggi, Ad Age's senior editor, here with the latest edition of our Super Bowl Alert. It's just three days until kickoff and Ad Age is bringing you breaking news, analysis and first looks at the high-stakes, big-game commercials—all in our Super Bowl Alerts newsletter. Sign up right here to get them in your email.

Digital blitz

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will sit out Super Bowl for the first time since 2009, E.J. Schultz reports. It's a surprise move for the auto brand that has been known for big-budgeted, celebrity-filled spots (like this 2012 Clint Eastwood commercial). Instead, FCA is pursuing a digital-only strategy, releasing seven online videos over the course of the week.

Big buy

T-Mobile will air four spots in the game, CEO John Legere announced Friday on Twitter, airing one commercial per quarter.

T-Mobile also ran four spots in 2017, but last year the company aired just one ad in the Big Game, a spot with a voiceover featuring actress Kerry Washington and a bunch of babies.

Cola wars

The cola wars infiltrated the Georgia state legislature this week when an Atlanta-area lawmaker used a floor speech to defend Coke against Pepsi, the latter of which has taken over the city with ads ahead of the Super Bowl, Schultz writes. PepsiCo is an official National Football League sponsor, but Coca-Cola Co. is headquartered in Atlanta, where the game will be played.

"Friends don't let friends drink a Coke wannabe...especially in Georgia," Rep. Wes Cantrell, who represents Atlanta suburb Woodstock, said during a morning order speech.

For the first time since 2006, Coke won't air an in-game ad; instead it plans to run a spot right before the National Anthem.

Going for laughs

Audi, which ran serious Super Bowl ads in its previous two appearances, is going for laughs this year in an ad plugging its electric vehicle ambitions, E.J. Schultz reports. By pivoting to humor this year, Audi is following the path of a lot of other advertisers that are avoiding tackling anything remotely political.

From the archive: In 2017, Audi aired an ad called "Daughter" that promoted equal pay for women and men. The spot received backlash, with some critics calling attention to the majority-male makeup of the brand's executive team. Still, it finished third in USA Today's Ad Meter ranking. In 2016 the brand ran an emotional spot that portrayed a retired astronaut reliving his glory days in space.

Sprint's ad, released on Thursday, features a team of robots, a mermaid and NFL and MLB star Bo Jackson.

You can watch all the Super Bowl ads released so far here.

Burger trivia

Wendy's won't have an ad during the Super Bowl, but it partnered with HQ Trivia for a bacon-themed game on Super Bowl Sunday. Someone will win free Baconators for life.

Scaredy-cats

SimpliSafe unveiled a teaser for its ad on Thursday, playing into some of America's fears. These include: creepy men in cul-de-sacs, stolen packages and footprints in the backyard.

Bookmark our Super Bowl ad chart, which is the most current look at all the marketers confirmed to air national spots in Super Bowl LIII.

And follow @AdAge on Twitter on Sunday during the game where I will be tweeting commentary about all the ads. (Feel free to send us your thoughts as well and you just might get a shout out!)

Elsewhere: Maroon 5's frontman Adam Levine broke his silence on performing in the Super Bowl Halftime Show on "ET."

CORRECTION: In Thursday's newsletter we incorrectly stated that Google aired a Super Bowl ad for the brand in 2018. Its last ad was in 2017, but it did run a commercial for YouTube TV during Super Bowl LII. We regret this error.

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