Made in America Company WeatherTech’s Super Bowl Ad is a Little Different This Year

By Jeffrey Bonior
Who is a good boy? | Photo courtesy WeatherTech

Rather than tout its American-made products, the company is championing a good cause.

If you have spent any time watching televised sports during the past six years, you have probably seen ads from the Chicago-area based company WeatherTech.

WeatherTech is best known for its Made in America themed television commercials, which highlight the company’s automotive floor mats, custom automotive liners and pet-friendly products. Each commercial concludes with a bold sign-off graphic that displays “WeatherTech, Made in America.”

In 2013, WeatherTech owner and CEO David MacNeil contacted Pinnacle Advertising CEO Mike Magnusson about the possibility of running an ad during the 2014 Super Bowl to help introduce the company to a global audience. WeatherTech had been working with Pinnacle since 2009.

“When David first interviewed us, he told us he wanted to be able to advertise on the Super Bowl as a milestone for his business,” Magnusson said. “He felt that if he could advertise on the Super Bowl, his business would have grown to the point where it makes marketing sense to be on that type of stage, to be on the largest platform in the world when it comes to advertising.

“His goal was to grow his business to be successful enough to have it make marketing sense to have it be advertised on the Super Bowl. That was his initial desire and it all came from him.

“In our initial interview he asked, ‘can you get me there?’ I said yes, and five years later he was on the Super Bowl.”

Ever since then, WeatherTech has spread its Made in America message to a massive worldwide audience.

But this year is going to be a little different.

Super Bowl LIV will be played on Sunday, a matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs. For the seventh consecutive year, WeatherTech will be a part of the telecast, but this year’s game has taken on a more personal narrative from MacNeil and his 1,600 Chicago-area based employees.

The 30-second commercial spot will air during the second quarter of the game and feature only a brief mention of the company’s automotive products. But conspicuous by its absence is WeatherTech’s standard closing graphic of “Made in America.”

Don’t be alarmed, however. WeatherTech’s manufacturing facilities and headquarters remain in the Chicago suburb of Bolingbrook, Illinois.

Perhaps the only thing MacNeil loves more than his successful Made in America automotive accessories business is his family dog Scout.

In July 2019, Scout collapsed. He was given a cancer diagnosis that indicated the 7-year-old Golden Retriever had a life expectancy of no more than one month. MacNeil was devastated.

MacNeil took Scout to the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine seeking any help they could provide the canine, who had been the inspiration for several of WeatherTech’s line of pet products.

Scout received aggressive cancer treatment, and within two months a tumor on the adorable Golden Retriever’s heart was 90 percent smaller than its original size. Scout is doing well and is nearly cancer-free, so MacNeil wanted to give back to the animal medical school and decided the annual WeatherTech Super Bowl ad was just the right ticket.

In past Super Bowl commercials, Scout was seen walking through the manufacturing and office areas at WeatherTech headquarters. This year, Scout will appear alongside members of the medical staff and faculty at UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine.

 “Scout is doing great,” MacNeil said in an interview. “He’s going through radiation for the next two weeks on his lungs to work on a little of the few tumors he’s got there.

“The whole point of this commercial is to get donations to the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine. That’s it. That’s what we are all about this year.”

Ads that air during the Super Bowl can attract as much attention as the championship game itself. No bathroom breaks and quiet please during the stoppage of play, as millions of Americans watch to see the latest, innovative pitch by the United States’ leading makers of snacks, automobiles, beer, soda and other products.

You may not remember the outcome of a certain year’s Super Bowl game, but many memories of clever, heart-throbbing advertising are imbedded into your consciousness.

Who could forget the Coca-Cola ad of Pittsburgh Steelers Hall-of-Famer “Mean” Joe Greene handing a boy his dirty jersey after the youngster offers a battered Greene a Coke after the game? Or the Budweiser “Puppy Love” ad that featured the love between a small puppy and one of the famed Budweiser Clydesdales?

 “So, we’ve been doing Super Bowl commercials talking about American manufacturing, building factories in America, hiring American workers, using American raw materials and we’ve been doing that and showcasing our products and that is great,” MacNeil said. “But I think people have gotten to the point where they know about our products, they know what we do.

“I thought what can we do to give back and help animals and people eradicate cancer, help with the research for cancer, create treatments for cancer for animals and humans and that whole thing was that we got treated so well at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine. So, I said ‘what can we do to help raise funds for them? We’ll pay the marketing fees, the cost of the commercials and that stuff. You guys just take the donations in. Whether you’ve got $5 or $50,000, please make a donation and let’s do something to help cure canine cancer which is the largest cause of canine death in America.’

“The commercial was $5.6 million for the 30-second spot, plus the cost of production. Most people are selling a snack, they’re selling a beer, they are selling a truck. I wanted to raise money for the animals, for the dogs. So, we can raise money for the university. You just click on the donate page on our website and 100 percent of those funds go right to the university.”

MacNeil’s passion for American manufacturing is nearly as strong as his love of Scout. Three years ago, WeatherTech constructed another building to help house its growing manufacturing facilities. That construction was the focus of WeatherTech’s 2018 Super Bowl ad.

“We used 714 tons of American steel when we built our new factory building,” MacNeil said. “All I did was specify when they built the building is that they had to use all American-made materials. So, plumbing, electrical, steel – everything had to be American made. Even the excavation machinery had to be American made to excavate the property.

“Personally, I like supporting American manufacturing, the American worker and using American raw materials.”

And we are betting that MacNeil will enjoy nothing more than sitting in front of his TV watching many more Super Bowls with his best friend Scout by his side.