(Editor’s Note: Check back for more as we update this breaking news story.)
An apparent copyright dispute with the NFL has forced Chrysler to block access to the Youtube version of its much-discussed “Halftime in America” commercial, starring Clint Eastwood. The unusual 2-minute spot, which originally aired at the end of halftime during Super Bowl XLVI, focused on solving the nation’s current problems rather than offering the traditional automotive hard-sell.
Following a year after an earlier 2-minute spot that featured rapper Eminem and focused on Detroit’s comeback, the Eastwood commercial triggered massive discussions on social media and a flood of viewers who raced to replay the spot on sites such as YouTube.
But what caused Chrysler to pull the ad and state that, “This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by NFL Properties LLC” is unclear. Just before 10 AM Eastern Time, Chrysler issued a media alert advising that it had received reports the link to the commercial “did not work. Our apologies!” The media advisory included an updated link that allows a journalist to view or download the spot without trouble. (Click Here.)
A call to the maker’s press office in Auburn Hills, Michigan left the answer unresolved, with an administrative assistant claiming there was no problem with the ad but officials so far unable to explain why the ad was pulled from Chrysler’s own Youtube page. Adding to the confusion, the cinematic commercial was uploaded by a number of individuals and so far, at least, Youtube, Chrysler and the NFL have made no effort to pull any of them down.
The spot, which opened with Eastwood slowly emerging from the shadows, focuses on what he calls “halftime in America,” the octogenarian actor declaring, “I’ve seen a lot of tough eras, a lot of downturns in my life. And, times when we didn’t understand each other. It seems like we’ve lost our heart at times. When the fog of division, discord, and blame made it hard to see what lies ahead.
But after those trials, we all rallied around what was right, and acted as one. Because that’s what we do. We find a way through tough times, and if we can’t find a way, then we’ll make one.”
Chrysler generated plenty of headlines in February 2011 with its Eminem spot, the rapper driving through Detroit in a new Chrysler 200 sedan as a narrator described the city’s tough times and nascent turnaround. The unusual approach, mirrored on a national scale by Eastwood doing his own narration, led CNN Money to declare Chrysler, “the king of Super Bowl spots.”
USA Today, which traditionally uses a consumer panel to rate Super Bowl commercials, hinted the Eastwood spot was a smash success – though it wasn’t officially ranked because Chrysler aired it just before the official end of the game’s halftime show.
Meanwhile, even the competition rallied behind the maker. In an official tweet, Chevrolet said, “Thank you for your trust in America. From the heart of Detroit to your homes, we feel the same way.”
In an interview with Detroit radio station WJR early Monday morning, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne was asked if the Eastwood spot outdid the earlier Eminem commercial, which also ran 2 minutes.
“No, I don’t know whether we outdid Eminem,” said Marchionne. “It’s difficult. The message is completely different this time around. It’s very difficult when you work on these things to be objective because the message and the work that we did with Clint Eastwood and with the agency and with our people on this was so, so detailed and so gut-wrenching that it was very difficult to be objective.”
Using Eastwood, known for many years for his work in Italian-made “spaghetti Westerns,” and later in the shoot-‘em-up Dirty Harry flicks, Eastwood is a Republican, but the message of his spot has generated some controversy because of the federally funded 2009 Chrysler bailout. For his part, Marchionne said that he knew the automaker would “need to be careful. But it was not intended to be any type of political overture on our part.”
Marchionne also revealed that the money Eastwood was paid will be donated to charity. The executive did not disclose the fee.
(For TheDetroitBureau.com’s earlier report on the Chrysler – Clint Eastwood ad, Click Here.)