This year, at least one Super Bowl commercial doesn't have ponies or puppies. Or dancers. Or beautiful women. Or singers. Or goats. Or lizards. Or bunnies. Or ex-governors. It won't have a surprise ending or a (hopefully) viral catch-phrase. 

In fact, at least one Super Bowl commercial doesn't even have a voice-over.

What it will have are scenes of a 125,000 square-foot facility being constructed in Bolingbrook, Illinois.

That unconventional commercial -- in Super Bowl ad terms -- is the brain-child of David MacNeil, the founder and CEO of WeatherTech, the Illinois-based auto floor mat and accessory manufacturing firm MacNeil started in his home in 1987 that now does hundreds of millions of dollars in sales and employs nearly 2,000 people. 

Massive growth notwithstanding -- since 1987 WeatherTech has consistently maintained an annual growth rate at or above 15 percent -- paying $5 million for a 30-second commercial might seem steep.

But not to MacNeil.

"We've run a Super Bowl commercial every year starting in 2014," MacNeil says. "I wouldn't do it if it didn't make good business sense. Running Super Bowl ads is great branding for us. It's the largest audience in America for a TV program. And it's the only event where the TV commercials get so much visibility."

"To me it's simple," he says. "If I run a commercial during a different program, you wouldn't be interviewing me." (Laughs.) "So yes, it is $5 million for one commercial... but when you add up all ancillary benefits, and all the other ways a Super Bowl commercial gets seen and shared, that's an extremely good value."

So why run an expensive commercial simply to show a factory being built? MacNeil wants to highlight the newest WeatherTech facility that produces floor liners and employs an additional 250 American workers.

"For every manufacturing job that's created," MacNeil says, "five support jobs get created. Building a factory creates a bigger economic footprint. That's the most important message you could possibly share with an audience: Building a factory in America. Isn't that the way it's supposed to be?"

"We basically started saying the same thing five years ago with our first Super Bowl commercial," he says. "We build, buy, and hire American. To me, that's just the right thing to do."

Another unconventional move: WeatherTech conceived and produced this year's Super Bowl commercial in-house, using its own video team. "When you really believe in something," MacNeil says, "you truly understand the message you're trying to convey. So who better than us to produce it?"

Good point. WeatherTech's commercial shows exactly what the business stands for, both as a brand and as a company. 

Which, unconventional as it might seem for a Super Bowl ad, seems like the perfect way to market any business.

Published on: Feb 2, 2018
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