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Chrysler Working Up Another Super Bowl Blockbuster Ad

But this time, the cars may be the stars.

by on Oct.08, 2012

Chrysler's global marketing chief went out on a limb - or more accurately, out in a blizzard - to get rapper Eminem for a much-watched Super Bowl ad.

Few advertisers have created such a stir during the Super Bowl as Chrysler, which knocked it out of the park in 2011 with an unusual, 2-minute commercial featuring rapper Eminem, then came back with the controversial Clint Eastwood commercial during the 2012 Super Bowl.

Might the maker try to score again with a spot during next year’s big game, typically one of the most widely viewed TV events in the world?

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“Yes, we are leaning towards being there,” said Chrysler’s global marketing czar Olivier Francois. In a conversation with, he admitted that the challenge is coming up with another breakout idea. “Clearly, topping what we have done so far – no mystery – is not going to be easy.”

In 2011, the maker highlighted its revival after a well-publicized bankruptcy by focusing on the comeback of the Motor City.  The highly charged commercial was one of only two rapper Eminem every agreed to participate in – and the only one that actually showed him in person.

Pulling that off wasn’t easy, Francois acknowledged, recalling how he had to drive to an unmarked location in the Detroit suburbs during a blinding blizzard in December 2010 to meet with a close associate of Eminem who could actually make the difficult connection.

“It’s finding the right door to open, said Olivier, noting it was nearly as difficult to bring actor/director Clint Eastwood onboard for the 2012 Super Bowl spot. That 2-minute commercial focused on the way Americans were dealing with an ongoing, weak economy.

It generated significant controversy, especially among Republicans who felt it was a subtle tip-of-the-hat to Pres. Barack Obama, who approved the federal bailout of Chrysler in 2009. Ironically, Eastwood eventually went on to upstage GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney during the party’s Tampa convention with his own anti-Obama presentation.

While the 2013 Super Bowl is little more than four months away, Francois said there is no rush pulling the pieces in place. In fact, he is just beginning the process of reviewing ideas that could turn into the next big Chrysler media event.  It’s likely things won’t be firmed up until late December or even January.

The key to repeating the success of those two earlier spots is “to engage at a deeper level” with viewers by touching on issues that impact the entire country.  But he said there is “also room for humor and entertainment,” the more traditional approach to advertising during the Super Bowl.

Most likely, he hinted, the lighter style will be taken by the small but fast-growing Fiat brand which helped charge up its return to the U.S., last winter, with the racy Super Bowl spot, dubbed “Seduction,” featuring supermodel Catrinel Menghia.

While Olivier has been willing to drive through a blizzard to line up a celebrity pitchman, he has repeatedly said that he would not use a star just for the sake of putting a big name in front of his audience.

A return to the Super Bowl, he stressed, “would be about the message,” and that, in the end, is about Chrysler’s products.  So, he concluded, “There might very well not be a star.”


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