Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Clint Eastwood's 2 minute Chrysler Super Bowl Ad

I mostly wrote this entry so I could have an excuse to post this incredibly
sexy photo of young Clint Eastwood.

Every thirty second spot in the Super Bowl this year cost a record 3.5 million dollars. So Chrysler spent 14 million dollars to have their two minute "It's Halftime in America" ad air.

The shots of Eastwood are compelling, and having him do voice over up until the last line is an effective climax. Eastwood is one of my favorite actors, and  I thought he lent tons of gravitas to the hokey script.

However, I thought the whole "Half Time in America" conceit didn't quite work. The footage of the every day works was compelling, but the script was way below the level of the cinematography. The lines about Detroit almost failing and people being out of jobs were a bit to matter of fact to me, wikipedia level writing instead of the type of rhetoric that would have better suited the way the ad was constructed.

The imported from Detroit slogan has been Chrysler's slogan for over a year now, but they should have kept it off the end of this ad. It worked in the Eminem ad last year since it was about how Detroit is a funky fresh city, but I don't think it works in this ad about how America is trying to get back on its feet. The whole "Imported from Detroit" idea, at least to me, is that Chrysler is able to make cars that rival the popular imports from Japan and Germany. This ad had nothing to do with cars, let alone build quality so the slogan is not relevant.

If anything this ad is back pedaling from the idea that Chrysler can build cars which are as good as the imports.

Besides my problems with the script of the ad being a few drafts away from being as meaningful and profound as the ad hopes it is, I think this is a terrible ad from a "selling a product" stand point.

I get that Chrysler is trying to align their struggles to the struggles of the average American and create warm feelings toward the brand through this. I personally don't think this works to sell anything, let alone an investment as serious and financially large as a car.

Detroit automakers spent from the 1970's onward building cars that were increasingly inferior in build quality and design to their German, Japanese, and now Korean counterparts.

This ad, unlike last year's, say absolutely nothing about Chrysler now building better cars than their terrible cars from before the bailout. I personally think the only car Chrysler is currently producing that has an iota of cool design is the new taillights on the Charger.

I obviously don't know the thought process behind this ad, but perhaps the truth is that Chrysler realizes their cars are still ugly and years behind the competition in terms of technology, which is why they showed maybe 3 seconds of cars in this two minute ad, and spent the rest of the ad trying to get you, the average American, to associate yourself with Chrysler. I don't think it worked. Even if it had me be get all bleary eyed and gotten  I don't think trying to convince people to buy inferior American cars out of patriotism will ever be a successful business model.

This rant is almost over I promise, but I just wanted to conclude by pointing out
1. The Chrysler 300 is not assembled in the U.S, it is assembled in Canadian factories out of parts made in Asia in order to save money. The Kia Sportage along with many other German and Japanese cars are assembled in modern plants in the southern United States, providing hundreds of jobs.
There is a pretty interesting article from the Christian Science Monitor in which they discuss these plants and interview workers there about the Detroit bailout. Read it here.
2. The majority owner in Chrysler at this time is Fiat, a company which is based in Italy which you may recognize as not being in America. I have nothing against foreign car companies, I just find it funny that the whole point of this ad was that Chrysler somehow feels the pain of the unemployed American because they are a Detroit car company, but 58 percent of them is in fact, not an American car company.

This is not to say that I don't think you can make an ad that successfully addresses the automotive bailout. Or that using ads to  give folks a warm feeling about your company does not ever work. Coke's "Life tastes good" slogan was one of my favorites, and those ads, I thought successfully associate Coca-Cola with good times.

GM made a brilliant ad a few years back with acknowledged the bailout and thanked America for saving it. It did so in a much more clever way than Chysler:

I think this ad is great. It came only around six months after the bailout, and unlike the Chysler ad, its message was "thank you." The GM ads since then have been about how cool their cars are, rather than trying to guilt you into buying one.

Sometimes new GM has had goofy ads about how their new compact car is so hip that it goes sky diving, but even that ad is a lot more effective than the Chrysler ad, since it actually features a car in it.

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