The Eminem Chrysler ad, and what Detroiters think

Posted on February 7, 2011

The two-minute Chrysler Group LLC commercial during the third quarter of Sunday’s Super Bowl XLV telecast on Fox generated plenty of local and national buzz.

The spot, called “Imported From Detroit,” features native-son rapper Eminem driving the new Chrysler 200 sedan through Detroit while a voiceover touts the city, its people, its toughness and its ability to create luxury automobiles.

The car was the most-searched thing on hours after the spot aired, according to Google Trends, and it’s No. 4 this morning. The Chrysler 200 spot has more than 800,000 YouTube views as of 10 a.m. today.

Here is reaction sought overnight by Crain’s to the commercial from some of metro Detroit’s image-minders and leading creative minds:

Marge Sorge, manager of the Detroit Regional News Hub: “Fiat/Chrysler has indeed embraced Detroit. This was a terrific ad that should help change Detroit’s image nationwide and restore pride in Detroit. It is appealing to the young people we want to attract to Detroit, and Chrysler and Fiat want them to buy their vehicles. That’s a win-win.

“According to our social media guru, Jeremiah Staes of Portage Media, the ad’s a hit on the social media front. On Monday morning, the Chrysler video was being shared once every 20 seconds, and the conversation was literally 98.3 percent positive.”

Mike Layne, owner of the Farmington Hills PR and marketing agency Marx Layne & Co.: “Interestingly, slightly more consumers watch the Super Bowl for the ads than for the game itself, according to Nielsenresearch. The Chrysler 200 ad captured the grit and determination of Detroit. It made me want to stand up and cheer for our home team. With a run time of two minutes, this outstanding commercial instilled confidence in the consumer base, reached an all-time-high Super Bowl audience of 106.5 million viewers and continues to generate tremendous buzz online.”

Dan Hauser, vice president of marketing for Palace Sports & Entertainment Inc.: “Chrysler did a brilliant job of using a mega-star like Eminem to accurately depict the resurgence of the Detroit area while effectively integrating the Chrysler 200 brand.

“I also thought the Chevrolet Cruze spot was outstanding, using the power of social media. I was watching the game with one of my sons (age 23), and he said his next car purchase might be a Cruze, which is still the real objective of all spots.”

Toby Barlow, Detroit booster and executive vice president and chief creative officer at Dearborn-basedTeam Detroit, Ford Motor Co.’s ad agency: “I’m always happy to see positive stories about Detroit, and I think it’s awesome that Eminem has made a point of taking a stand for this town. It was an attempt to be something noble and grand. We could use more of those kinds of gestures around here.

“That said, I wasn’t quite sure how that was an ad for the car.”

Jeff Goodby, founder of the San Francisco-based ad agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, the new ad agency for General Motors Co.: “A lovely evocation of the town and our American car companies. Not sure I’m convinced Detroit is a place that knows luxury more than New York or Chicago, as they contend.”

Don Tanner, co-founder of the Farmington Hills-based PR agency Tanner Friedman: “Where Super Bowl spots typically focus on outrageous humor or CG (computer-generated) ‘wow factor,’ Chrysler took full advantage of the world’s largest TV stage, utilizing two full minutes to artfully communicate something most meaningful.

“In turn, they underscored their Detroit lineage with the message: ‘Like Detroit, we’re poised for a comeback.’ Best spot of the night.

“In keeping with ‘Lose Yourself’ theme and the Gospel choir, the core message was, ‘We shall overcome.’ ”

Bob Berg, partner at Detroit-based Berg Muirhead and Associates Inc.: “With the iconic shots of Detroit, great photography, the two-minute length, the Chrysler 200 with Eminem at the wheel, it was very powerful and the most memorable ad of the night. A real conversation-starter, which is what good Super Bowl ads accomplish.

“In other words, I thought it was a home run — or, I guess since it was a Super Bowl ad, a long touchdown pass.”

• During the game, blogger Jeff Wattrick asked online: “A long-form Super Bowl commercial with an A-list star like Eminem isn’t cheap. Chrysler didn’t drop coin on the ad just to make Detroit feel good. They did it to sell Chrysler 200s. So, will the ad move metal nationally? Do you think someone in Peoria or Scottsdale or Hartford will be inspired by Detroit and buy a 200?”

The commercial was created by Portland, Ore.-based Wieden+Kennedy, known for its Nike work. It replaced the Troy office of BBDO as Chrysler’s agency of record in 2009.

Super Bowl spots were thought to sell for a $3 million flat rate for each 30 seconds. Typically, networks give discounts for longer or multiple commercial deals, or both.

Chrysler Group CEO Sergio Marchionne said last week that the company paid less than $9 million for the spot, which used Eminem’s 2002 hit “Lose Yourself” from the soundtrack of the movie “8 Mile.”

Ford didn’t have any in-game commercials but did run three pre-game advertisements centered on the carmaker’s Ford Focus.

GM had five 30-second spots during the game and three during the pregame show. It also sponsored the “Glee” episode immediately after the game.

The commercials, thought to have cost about $15 million, were done by Goodby, Silverstein and were for the Camaro, Cruze Eco, Silverado HD and Volt.

“The Super Bowl stuff was directed out of (San Francisco), but there is a lot of client contact stuff done through the Detroit staff,” Goodby said. “There are around 135 people (in Detroit) right now, and we’re moving into the Woodward Avenue offices mid-February. Everyone’s excited.”

Bill Shea, Crain’s Detroit