While most people who watched the Superbowl last Sunday were interested in the actual football game being played, a significant portion turned in just to watch the commercials. These ads are an annual tradition in which each company attempts to be the funniest or the weirdest in order to get their product stuck in the consumer’s mind. However, viewers this year were faced with a commercial unlike all the rest. Chrysler released a commercial, which played during half-time, which went in a completely separate direction from all the rest.
Instead of showing babies in slingshots or the cast of Star Wars enjoying Superbowl commercials (my personal favorites out of the traditional ads), this ad, directed by David Gordon Green, instead took a much more serious angle as Clint Eastwood talked to the audience about the hard economic times facing the country and Detroit in particular. The ad asks that the American people stay strong and look towards the future instead of focusing on the downsides of the present, a sentiment that feels more at home in a political ad instead of a Superbowl commercial. The ad has many similarities to Ronald Reagan’s famous “It’s Morning in America” campaign, also delivered at a time of economic downturn.
The commercial is also remarkable in that the only time Chrysler is mentioned is at the very end when their name shows up on screen. The title of the company is never spoken, instead showing images of their cars and of normal people. By shooting the commercial in this manner, the ad feels much more universal and less like an advertisement. While most of the commercials are attempting to create so much product recognition that you can’t help but remember the name of the company, Chrysler instead decided to step back and allow the ad to speak before mentioning that they had made it. This style of advertisement is, in some ways, more interesting as it causes the viewer to pay more attention in order to figure out what the ad is for.
The ad itself is very risky if only for the costs involved. For just the airtime, Chrysler had to pay $12.3 million. That is in addition to the cost of actually making a commercial, a figure which the company has yet to release. Does this commercial merit the extreme expense that it took to make it? Will it cause enough of an upswing in sales to cover the cost? My gut points towards yes if only because it reminded people of their own domestic companies. While the other car companies may make fantastic products, buying from Chrysler supports the economy of the United States, not Germany or Japan. By having the commercial narrated by Clint Eastwood, an American icon, Chrysler was able to create an atmosphere of patriotism that can be very powerful in the proper hands. In addition, by creating a commercial that was the least commercial of all of them, Chrysler is being praised by many people around the country. This, in essence, gives them more advertising space as people talk about their ad more and more.
In the end, Chrysler was able to make a very inspiring ad at a time when no one was expecting it. They surprised everyone and created something that will be remembered long after the excitement over the Ferris Bueller commercial has passed. By tapping into the American people’s sense of comradeship, they have ingrained their name into the minds of everyone who was watching at the time, a record breaking 111.3 million people. Whether they have the best intentions for the ad or just financial ones, one has to be impressed by the artisanship and individuality that the ad represents.