Monday, February 6, 2012

Chrysler Super Bowl Ad: Political?



Chances are you've seen Chrysler's hit Super Bowl Commercial, "It's Halftime in America." It's a pretty cool commercial; I don't think anyone can deny that Clint Eastwood is a quintessential badass. We can ignore that maybe Chrysler forgot about Gran Torino- you know, that film in which a Ford is kind of one of the central symbols. My primary issue with their $12.8 million spot isn't the narrator, or the message it sends about our nation.

In fact, I'm writing this with some hesitation. Regular readers of this blog will remember that I wrote a little rant about Chrysler's advertising fallacies not too long ago. It was one of the most popular articles in this blog's history. So, let me be clear that this is not being written just to recreate something that was popular before, or to recirculate my old views on Chrysler's marketing tactics.

An article was just published  (for tomorrow's February 7 edition) by the New York Times- "Republicans See Politics in Chrysler Super Bowl Ad." I try to keep my political views off this website, since they aren't really relevant to the automotive world. And I won't name any of my personal political views in this article, because I do not agree with the assertion that the commercial was political. The article got me thinking for a different reason.

Click "read more" to continue with this post...




Eastwood was quoted in NYT as denying any political motivation for the commercial, and stating, “It is about American spirit, pride and job growth.” That's at least an indicator that it wasn't secretly financed by some pro-Obama PAC, because the word "Hope" is missing.

The thing is, if you read the NYT article, you'll see lots of bitching and postulating about political agenda in the commercial. And, of course, the bailout funds are mentioned- a passing reminder seems to be mandatory for every article about any American automaker these days.

What I was shocked to find missing from the article was the fact that Chrysler is in fact not an American corporation. Fiat owns almost 60 percent of Chrysler and Sergio Marchionne has expressed an interest in raising this to 100 percent. Chrysler openly admitted- and even promoted the fact- that their latest big thing, the Dart, was designed predominantly in Italy, and has a Fiat motor. (The Dart itself is a whole separate story which I will hopefully get time to reflect on in a separate post.)

I'm definitely not one of those egregious "Buy American" supporters. I believe in purchasing the best product on the market, not buying something because it's made in your own nation. That might sound harsh, but buying a product to support something instead of buying it because it's good is to go against the fundamental tenets of capitalism. Just take a look at some of the cars the Soviet Union made.

It's not the fact that Chrysler is Italian that bothers me, or prompted me to write this... because that's not what bothers me. What bothers me is that Chrysler has made a $12.8 million commercial extolling the virtues of America, proclaiming that it's time to bring American manufacturing and blue collar values back, and generally painting a happy-good-feeling "Imported from Detroit" picture on your screen... to sell you a product from an Italian company.


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