Thursday, February 9, 2012

Chrysler dealers defend "Halftime in America" spot.

As reported in The Wall Street Journal today, Chrysler Group's National Dealer Council has come out with a unified statement defending the company against complaints about the “Halftime in America” Super Bowl ad.

After an emergency meeting, here’s their statement…

"We have no doubt that this ad had no political agenda of any kind but rather [was] a statement of fact and hope for the future for all of us and America.”

This is not an insignificant development. To have a group of car dealers – often the most “hard core” of retailers – to come together like this, or to agree on anything for that matter, is quite an accomplishment.

Oliver Francois, Chrysler's chief marketing officer and architect of the ad (with some help from a really good agency called Weiden+Kennedy) said he finds the controversy perplexing. "It was designed to deliver emotions and I don't think emotions have a party. There was zero political message. It was meant more of a rally cry to get together and what makes us strong is our collective power and not our individual disagreements."

While Chrysler and Jeep vehicles were shown in the ad, there wasn’t a gas mileage claim or cash-back offer in sight. The ad gave viewers something to think about and, as Mr. Francois points out, something to feel.

Bravo, Chrysler dealers. Your brand, and every one of your franchises, just got a bit more valuable.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

What kind of car are you driving, Mr. Rove?

It’s halftime in America, and we just can’t resist the urge to politicize everything. Just because it’s an election year, does everybody have to go completely nuts? Does everything have to somehow contain a subliminal, one-sided political message? As Corey Williams of the AP points out, it really does depend on whom you ask. So go ahead, make my day. Ask me.

What I saw was the next step in a progressive, extremely well produced campaign.

In last year’s Super Bowl, the spot that introduced the Chrysler 200 and the “Imported from Detroit” tagline overshadowed everything else. Why? Because of the way it was produced. It was intelligent. No talking smart-ass baby. No slingshot baby. No scantily clad babes. Sure, they were introducing a new model, but did they produce something that looked like every other car spot? No. They had a message to deliver.

This time around, the cinematic two-minute spot featuring Clint Eastwood, an American icon himself, took the campaign to the next level, and blew everything else away. Good advertising should make you think, and feel something. Nice job, Wieden+Kennedy.

But in sharp contrast to the intelligence and artistry of that spot, there’s Carl Rove on Fox News yesterday, feeding the basic instincts of the conservative faithful by saying he was "offended" and characterizing the Chrysler spot as an Obama campaign message. Really? Is he implying that because Chrysler took the $12.5 billion in government bailout money they aren’t entitled to convey an important message? A message about an American brand – and an American city – making a comeback? Does this guy have any idea what he’s talking about? Or maybe he’s offended because this ad recalls Reagan’s 1984 “Morning in America” spot by the late, great Hal Riney. Maybe he's just bitter because he's never had the opportunity - or the ability - to craft messages as well.

And what is Rove driving? Probably a Honda.