The Super Bowl provides a unique opportunity for brands to get their message out to a mass audience. Between three Super Bowl commercials and the sponsorship of a portion of the halftime show, Fiat Chrysler demonstrated that they aim to make a splash in the US market this year.

Alfa Romeo has never been a popular brand in the US, and sales of the cars were discontinued completely in North America between 1995 and 2008. With only 516 vehicles sold in the US last year, the Super Bowl campaign was used as a re-introduction of the Alfa Romeo brand to America.

To determine the impact of Fiat Chrysler’s messaging, we examined online users who looked up Alfa Romeo vehicles across leading third party automotive sites during both the six days prior and the six days after the Super Bowl. We used machine learning algorithms developed by our Data Science team to assess the demographic and psychographic makeup of Alfa Romeo’s shoppers to see if there was shifting engagement following the game.

When looking at high-level demographics we found that Alfa Romeo shoppers skew toward affluent males. Men composed 67% of Alfa Romeo shoppers following the Super Bowl and shoppers were between 20-40% more likely than the average online user to make $75K or more. With the cheapest Alfa Romeo model priced near $40K, these results probably won’t surprise anyone. To fully understand the impact of Alfa Romeo’s Super Bowl advertising though, we needed to analyze what customers value in their cars as well.

In one of the Super Bowl commercial spots, we saw the Alfa Romeo Giulia zipping around tight curves, while the narrator emphasized the car’s design and performance. The commercial ended with the tag line, “some cars take your breath away.”  The takeaway is that Alfa Romeo isn’t positioning the Giulia as a safe family-friendly car, but rather a vehicle for people who enjoy driving and appreciate well-crafted automobiles.

Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo didn’t need to spend millions on Super Bowl advertising to attract people who enjoy driving, as 61% of their shoppers valued “enjoying driving” before the Super Bowl and only slightly increased to 65% afterwards.

We saw a big impact, however, on many other automotive values and product attribute preferences. After the Super Bowl, Alfa Romeo shoppers significantly increased their desire for High Quality, Fun/Exciting, and the Best Looking vehicles. They also increasingly valued Enjoyment and Personal Freedom with their cars.

As Alfa Romeo shoppers became more concerned with having fun with their cars though, they also grew less concerned with safety.

It’s important to note that not all of Alfa Romeo’s messaging broke through with its target audience. While the “Riding Dragons” commercial emphasized pioneering design, the desire for innovative cars dropped from 29% of their shoppers deeming it to be important to them before the game to only 19% afterwards.

Although Alfa Romeo’s Super Bowl campaign themes appeared to hit home with consumers overall, it’s too soon to tell if this is the beginning of a new brand identity that will ultimately drive customers to showrooms across the country. A deep understanding of the values and motivations of Alfa Romeo’s potential customers is a must for Fiat Chrysler in order to continue the momentum and ensure the successful re-launch of the brand in the US throughout the rest of the year.

Kevin Shea is Senior Manager, Analytics, Research at Resonate