Whether you’re following computers with iPods or strip-sacks with touchdown passes, comebacks are never easy. Steve Jobs recognized that developing a revolutionary piece of technology could pull Apple back into people’s lives, while the New England Patriots leaned on fundamentals (and the cool, steely nerve of Thomas Edward Patrick Brady) to bring a 5th Lombardi Trophy back home to Foxborough, Massachusetts. In the world of cars, comebacks are often no less dramatic, and we may be experiencing one right now.
At yesterday’s water-cooler conferences, talk of Alfa Romeo’s presence at Super Bowl LI was surely overshadowed by the greatest comeback in the history of the big game, but for anyone who watched the Super Bowl, the Italian brand was hard to miss. Three advertisements spanning a total of 2 minutes and possibly costing more than $20 million ran during the game and introduced America to one of Europe’s most cherished brands.
But as Benjamin Braddock can attest, this isn’t Alfa Romeo’s first dance in the United States. Max Hoffman, a New York-based importer, began bringing Alfas to the U.S. back in the 1950s, and in 1961 the Italian brand began importing the cars itself. But although Alfas like the Giulietta were unquestionably beautiful, they also gained a reputation for poor reliability, and in 1995 exporting to the United States was discontinued.
In the 22 years that have elapsed since then, Alfa Romeo has lost much of its name recognition in America, and those who do know the name are as likely to recall Spiders broken down on the side of the interstate as they are to think of a 4C carving through country roads. So in an effort to remind Americans of Alfa Romeo and to differentiate its cars from the other luxury sedans coming from Europe, Alfa’s commercial blitz featured plenty of winding roads and revving engines. And the language and tone of the longest spot, “Riding Dragons,” was clear: Alfa Romeo is making a comeback.
When gearheads talk about cars, they often bloviate on the topic of connection between man and machine. To an enthusiast, a car is more than transportation, and no brand is personified as frequently as Alfa Romeo.
Powerful but graceful, the Alfa Romeo Giulia promises to stay true to the company’s legacy. It will evoke human traits, but concerns about “old Alfa” can be put to rest. After all, “the ability to reinvent ourselves is the most human trait of all.”
Did its Super Bowl commercials leave you wanting a new Alfa Romeo?
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