It was one of the highest-rated – and talked-about – commercials on the Super Bowl. But will there be a reprise of the cinematic Chrysler spot, dubbed “Born of Fire,” that featured rapper Eminem?
That’s been a frequent topic of conversation almost from the moment the unusual 2:00 minute commercial aired during the second half of last Sunday’s game. The emotion-tinged effort featured the rapper, born Marshall Mathers, driving through a city that has, as the narration explains, “been to hell and back,” before he joins a gospel choir to deliver an 11-word message that essential says Chrysler is back.
Chrysler brand boss Olivier Francois is meeting with Eminem today as a follow-up to the spot, the executive revealed to TheDetroitBureau.com, during an exclusive discussion at the 2011 Chicago Auto Show. While he didn’t deny that the idea of a follow-up might be raised, he cautioned, “It has to be relevant.”
“I will never engage with a celebrity just to have him a commercial,” that doesn’t have the significance, relevance and impact of the “Born of Fire” spot, which ended with a stern Eminem facing the camera and declaring, “This is the Motor City. And this is what we do.”
The spot clearly struck a chord in Motown, a community hard hit by years of decline and the most recent recession. But where many thought one, perhaps all of Detroit’s Big Three makers might not make it through the downturn, all have come through – for now, anyway. After a two-month run through bankruptcy court, in 2011, Chrysler is still seen as the weakest of the makers.
The long Eminem spot was designed as much to rebuild the image of the brand – making customers feel comfortable about Chrysler’s viability – as it was to sell the new 200 sedan that was the featured product.
Significantly, the commercial appears to have resonated beyond the city limits. Even the competition had plenty of praise, Ford’s marketing czar, Jim Farley, suggesting it did a “fantastic” job of “myth-busting.”
The commercial “fit him,” Chrysler chief Francois said of Eminem, and if the approach is to be repeated, any follow-up will have to be equally suitable.
Of course, the other question is whether Eminem would make himself available. The star of the gritty film, “Eight Mile,” he had long rejected doing commercials, unlike so many others in the rap world. But Mathers actually made two appearances during this year’s Super Bowl ad-fest. Along with the Chrysler spot he lent his voice to an animated pitch for Lipton Brisk ice tea.
Eminem has not yet said whether he would like to expand his place in the world of celebrity pitchmen.