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Like many others, I look forward to the Super Bowl each year – not for the football, but for the sometimes theatrical, often times hysterical, and always extraordinarily expensive advertising. I loved last year’s Chrysler spot featuring Eminem’s homage to Detroit and couldn’t wait to see how Chrysler would, or if they indeed could, follow that up.
This year’s take on the “Imported from Detroit” creative platform featured Clint Eastwood in a 2 minute, cinematic rallying cry to all Americans from a recovering auto industry giant. “Halftime in America”, aired during half time, of course, and left me with mixed feelings.
As an American, I intuitively and viscerally connected with the kick-ass, can-do, rev up your engines attitude so perfectly conveyed by Clint. There’s something deep within me that gets inspired by this quintessentially American type of revel rousing. But, having lived and worked in London for nearly 15 years, there’s a bit of British in me too, and this more cynical and reserved side feels somewhat embarrassed that a has been car brand and an over the hill actor can have such an emotional effect on me. “It’s so cheesy, so American,” my colleagues say, and they’re right. For good and for bad.
I was happy to ponder and ultimately accept my two conflicting feelings about the Super Bowl’s most talked about commercial, but then the bullsh*t started and another feeling come over me – ANGER! Blame it on Karl Rove. Mr. Rove is making statements that the commercial is overtly political and in poor taste. Other politicians claim Chrysler is using the commercial to back Obama. Meanwhile the media are stirring up emotions on both sides of the political fence, milking the moment for all its worth. Come on America, be serious. This ad is not intended to have a political message, but rather one of collective American pride and job growth – a message completely in tune with the American psyche and the American economy – told in a way that feels credible and authentic, to the brand, and from the narrator.
And people love it – or at least they did before worrying about what loving it said about their political views. To date, the ad has received nearly 5 million views on YouTube, and has been voted favourite Super Bowl commercial 2012. So, was this ad a success for Chrysler or a PR disaster? What do you think?