Chrysler’s Super Bowl Ads Sells A City – And A Dream


While armchair quarterbacks can spend this week debating the finer points of the Packers win, we’re more interested in talking about the ads. While the ads were mainly milquetoast, one stood out that recalled classic Super Bowl ads – the kind that stands up to the Mean Joe Green’s and 1984’s of prior decades.

Sure, the Volkswagon/Darth Vader ad was cute, but the one everyone is talking about, the one that in these dark recession days hits the center of the cultural zeitgeist, is Chrysler’s ad featuring Eminem. It may seem odd that a two-minute ad featuring a white rapper who may be a bit past his glory days strikes such a singularly lucid, emotional note. Yet the commercial asks us not just to believe in Chrysler’s comeback, but in Detroit’s as well. The city stands as synecdoche for an America that used to make things. (A message of manufacturing nostalgia ironically echoed in a BMW ad, to lesser effect).

Joe Louis 2, photo by buckshot.jones.

The star of the commercial, despite the pounding opening notes of “Lose Yourself” and Eminem behind the wheel, is undeniably Detroit. From Robert Graham’s commission of Joe Louis’ fist by Time Inc. to Diego Rivera’s famous mural of Detroit’s manufacturing base at the Detroit Institute of the Arts, the city’s landmarks serve to reinforce a nostalgia for an American dream that’s been beaten down by the economy.

It’s effective…and ironic. As ArtInfo points out, Chrysler is using the work of a Mexican Marxist to sell American cars. Even more ironic? The murals were commissioned by the president of Ford to depict its plant workers.

Will the ad sell more luxury cars for Chrysler? That remains to be seen, but in the meantime, we’re ready to add this spot to our list of Best Ever Super Bowl commercials. Watch the full ad here or below.


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