There was a game on, last night. Yet, as often happens, Super Bowl becomes for many just a filler for the real battle — between advertisers. As tough as the fight was between Green Bay and Pittsburgh, the real war pitted the eight automakers who spent an estimated $100,000 a second to get their message across.
While most makers were satisfied with :30 second spots, Chrysler went with a budget-busting 2 minute commercial featuring native son Marshall Mathers, better known to most of the world as rapper Eminem. It was an eye-opening spot that didn’t hide the down-and-dirty side of the beleaguered Motor City – but it also delivered a surprising message of transformation far different from the “Buy American” paean to patriotism that Detroit makers traditionally have used to cover their flaws.
And in the process, Chrysler and Eminem appear to have the nation buzzing. The commercial is the most-searched item on Google this morning.
(Miss it? Click Here to view the commercial.)
The spot that ran in the third quarter, as the Packers and Steelers scrambled for control, was appropriately dubbed “Born of Fire,” and bore a pulsing background track from his song, “Lose Yourself,” from the movie, 8 Mile.
The images of the new Chrysler 200, and even of Eminem, were almost secondary to those of the City of Detroit. There were the smoking factories and the ruined buildings, close-ups of Diego Rivera’s legendary murals, and a choir in the restored Fox Theater.
“This is the Motor City,” said the rapper, climbing the stage and pointing his finger directly into the nation’s face, “And this is what we do.”
Just 11 words from Eminem, so perhaps the first reaction was one of confusion, trying to sort the messages out…which may explain why the much-watched USA Today Super Bowl Ad Meter ranked the commercial as only 44th of 61 rated sports. It achieved a score of 5.99, reasonable, but nowhere near the 7.95 garnered by the Volkswagen ad featuring a young boy convinced he’s Star Wars’ Darth Vader. And, apparently, Eminem doesn’t stand up to the trained dogs in the top-ranked Budweiser ad, a spot that had an Ad Meter Score of 8.35.
Yet, within minutes, it seemed like everyone was talking, tweeting and blogging about the Chrysler spot.
(Is a merged Fiat/Chrysler moving HQ to the Motor City? Click Here.)
“An inspired commercial,” declared media website MC.com, Posterous.com’s Deborah Edwards-Onero stating, “My favorite ad for the 2011 Super Bowl? Hands down the Chrysler Eminem ad by Wieden+Kennedy.” “The best of the night,” added SportGrid.com.
Super Bowl spots, considering their price, are designed to entertain, and Marshall Mathers certainly knows how to do that. But bottom line, they have to sell. But sell what for Chrysler?
“This 2-minute long Chrysler ad during the Super Bowl wasn’t so much a promotion for a new model; it was an editorial in defense of a beleaguered Detroit and, perhaps, a withering philosophy of what America is about,” wrote Rick Rojas, of the Los Angeles Times. “Chrysler seems to say that Detroit isn’t dead, and maybe the spirit of Americans making things isn’t dead either.”
The first-ever use, on the Super Bowl, of Diego Rivera’s incredible murals – which portrayed the gritty job of building cars on the original Ford Rouge assembly line – was highlighted by the Huffington Post.
The rap world was quick to weight in. “The last Eminem ad was strong — he’s about integrity, working-class grit Detroit and so is whatever car company it was for. I think,” Toure, Music Journalist, tweeted.
“That Eminem commercial dead ass gave me chills, if I was from Detroit I would of just KG-chest pounded myself,” echoed a tweet from Kazeem Famuyide, Online Editor of Source magazine.
“Super Bowl advertising is about making a statement and capturing the attention of the audience,” said Olivier Francois, President and CEO, Chrysler Brand and Lead Executive for Marketing, Chrysler Group LLC.” ‘Born of Fire’ is designed to generate conversation about the brand and the new 2011 Chrysler 200. The spot reflects where the brand is headed and pays tribute to our industrial roots.”
Whether the spot will move metal remains unclear, but we could soon be seeing a lot of folks repeating the tagline, “Imported from Detroit.”