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Chrysler Marshals its Forces for the Super Bowl

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author photo by Autotrader February 2011

If you watched the 2011 Super Bowl, you probably caught Chrysler’s extra-long advertisement featuring its new 200 sedan, rapper Eminem and, crucially, the city of Detroit. The two-minute spot was the longest in Super Bowl history and a bold move for the embattled company, which has yet to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Although the ad was dreamed up by an advertising agency from Oregon, Wieden and Kennedy, the inspiration came when two of its creative directors were driving around Motown and encountering its people. “You got to feel their pride,” said the agency’s Joe Staples (in an interview with the Detroit Times).

Speaking in a confident, strong tone and announcing the rebirth of both Chrysler and Detroit, the ad follows a 2011 Chrysler 200 as it passes many of the city’s landmarks. For the finale, rapper Eminem steps out of the car and into Detroit’s Fox Theatre, where he stands before a gospel choir and announces: “This is the Motor City. And this is what we do.” The spot kicks off Chrysler’s new “Imported from Detroit” campaign, announced in a tagline at the end of the ad.

Although Chrysler won’t comment on what it paid to run the spot, the going rate for a 30-second ad was around $3 million. The automaker had to get special permission from the National Football League, as most NFL television breaks are just 90 seconds. It’s a big gamble for a struggling concern trying to move metal.

“Super Bowl advertising is about making a statement and catching the attention of the audience,” Chrysler’s chief marketing executive Olivier Francois told USA Today, implying that the ad doesn’t need to sell cars to pay for itself. If that’s the case, then the ad was a success.

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Chrysler Marshals its Forces for the Super Bowl - Autotrader