Francois—who has overseen Super Bowl classics such as Ram’s “Farmer” in 2013 and Chrysler's “Halftime in America” (2012) and “Born of Fire” (2011)—suggested that this year, Americans are not in the mood for something heavy. They want “comedic relief,” he said, noting the hardships of the past several years, running from COVID to rising inflation.
“The work of a marketer is to smell what is in the air, what a customer wants,” he said, adding that “I don’t expect a lot of heavy commercials” in the game, “because the world has been heavy on us.”
Indeed, an overwhelming majority of brands are going for laughs this year.
Read more: Super Bowl 2023 commercials released so far
Ram tackles performance issues
In the case of Ram, the brand is using racy humor to drive early interest in the Ram 1500 REV pickup truck, which is not slated to go on sale until late 2024. Other automakers have already come out with electric trucks, including Ford (with its F-150 Lightning on sale now) and Chevrolet (with its Silverado EV that is taking orders).
Ram, with its ad, takes a subtle shot at those competitors by using bedroom humor to suggest that its EV will be worth the wait.
The spot draws parallels between not being able to perform in the bedroom (mostly performing too soon) and anxieties truck buyers might have about buying an electric pickup. Comedic actor Jason Jones (formerly of “The Daily Show”) stars as the on-screen narrator, listing “symptoms” of the “PE” affliction as several men open up about their issues, alongside their female partners.
“Fearing you might not be able to last as long as you’d like,” for instance, serves as a reference to so-called range anxiety—the fear that an electric vehicle will lose its charge before it gets you where you want to go. In another scene, a disappointed woman looks on at her man as Jones lists another symptom—“being unsure if you have enough power to handle your payload.”
The ad ends by directing viewers to a website, RamREV.com, to learn more about the new electric pickup, which Jones states “has options being designed to extend range in satisfying ways.” Ram is using the ad to launch a paid membership program called “Rev Insider.” In exchange for $100, members get to reserve a place in line to pre-order the vehicle, as well as get “exclusive access to events, news, and information about the Ram 1500 REV.”
While the spot is playful, it does risk alienating viewers by downplaying what is a serious condition for some people. Francois acknowledged that “anything you do in the Big Game is a little bit more scrutinized than when you do it elsewhere,” but said that ad was intended to be “a spoof of pharmaceutical ads—something American audiences see in abundance on TV.”
Francois has explored this terrain before: Stellantis-owned Fiat in the 2015 Super Bowl ran an ad called “Blue Pill” that spoofed a Viagra ad.
Jeep’s animal sequel
Jeep’s ad, which is set to air in the first half, has more innocent fun. With the help of special effects from production company The Mill, the spot shows animals including elephants, giraffes, meerkats, a walrus, a snake and a sloth dancing to a remake of the “Electric Boogie” alongside two electric Jeeps—the Wrangler 4xe and Grand Cherokee 4xe. It is intended to promote the fact that the EVs can “operate in nature in virtual silence,” according to a press release.
The remake was recorded by Jamaican Reggae artist and producer Shaggy and Marcia Griffiths, also of Jamaica. Griffiths' 1983 version of the song, as well as a later remix, propelled it into widespread popularity, including as the soundtrack for the “Electric Side” line dance that is frequently performed at weddings. The song was written by Bunny Wailer (of Bob Marley and the Wailers) in the 1970s.
Jeep’s version also features emerging singers Jamila Falak, Amber Lee and Moyann.
Read more: Shaggy discusses working on Jeep's Super Bowl ad