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Eminem earned Chrysler some buzz. Sales may be tougher get.

Posted by: David Welch on February 7, 2011

It can only be a good sign that Detroit carmakers have the cash on hand to advertise in pricey venues like the Super Bowl. But in Chrysler’s case, the money for its “Imported from Detroit” ad for the new 200 sedan may have been better spent elsewhere. The commercial starts with gritty images of bleak urban ruins, smoke stacks and downtown Detroit set against a lead-grey sky. The narrator asks, “what does this city know about luxury?” As we see more images, rapper Eminem comes onscreen driving a Chrysler 200, which replaced the weak-selling Sebring sedan late last year. The opening riff to his tune “Lose Yourself” eerily starts in and Eminem cruises the city. By the end of the ad he walks into Detroit’s Fox Theater where a gospel choir is singing. He then points into the camera and says, “This is the Motor City. And this is what we do.” The imagery is nicely done and Eminem is cool, but this ad misses the mark for several reasons.

1. The 200 is the wrong car. No one confused the old Sebring with luxury and this car is an upgrade, but not a completely-new model. The 300 is Chrysler’s big, stylish, pseudo-luxury car for the gangsta set. No way Eminem drives a 200. His bag man probably wouldn’t drive a 200. The 300 would have been a better choice.

2. We didn’t see enough of the car. The ad is expertly shot and brings to life the idea of a tough and resurgent Chrysler and Detroit. It shows a side to the human side to Motown that most outsiders don’t know, but it shows so little of the car that it’s tough to conclude that Detroit, or more specifically Chrysler, can do luxury.

3. To the rest of the nation watching the Super Bowl, Chrysler is struggling to make it back and Detroit as a city has been left for dead. Trying to raise the prospects of both in one ad is, shall we say, extremely ambitious.

4. Troubled American car brands need to get away from gritty Detroit imagery. No one needs reminding that Detroit is a city in serious trouble and that two of the Big Three would have disappeared if not for a government bailout. Domestic brands have to change the conversation for generations of Americans who abandoned them years ago and for young consumers who don’t know them. Ford has been plugging quality and technology like Sync. Chevrolet and Buick have been talking about fuel economy, Bluetooth and 40-gig hard drives in the dash. Both ideas are getting traction.

Chrysler can boast that the 2-minute ad, which is long for a Super Bowl commercial, got the new car some much-needed attention. Auto research website said that after the ad aired, 1,619% more people (about 8,300 in total) went to the site to look at the 200 than typically search for it on a Sunday evening. The problem with the comparison is that few people were looking at the car to begin with. Edmunds says that 681 people on average were shopping the car before the ad aired. An average of 15,911 typically shopped for the competing Hyundai Sonata. Will these new visitors buy the car? That will be the real test. The Sebring sold fewer than 25,000 cars last year. For comparison, Ford sold 219,000 of the competing Fusion. Chrysler got some sizzle with the ad, but there may not be enough substance to generate sales.

Reader Comments


February 7, 2011 6:03 PM

shutup. just cause this commercial was DOPE you had to go and try to find something wrong with it.


February 7, 2011 6:26 PM

There is always some one in the media to have something negative to say. Why not try something positive for a change, but I doubt you have the in you. Nothing will change when you are constantly bashing someone for one reason are another.


February 7, 2011 6:43 PM

Nah, that was a great ad. I'm looking at the 200 on account of it. Eminem gets it, Detroit gets it and so does Chrysler.

D. L. Williford

February 7, 2011 6:52 PM

Regarding the choice of the 200, the Chrysler 300 is actually assembled in Brampton, Ontario. The 200 is one of the few products assembled in Detroit. As far as luxury, the Chrysler Sebring convertible has long been used as a luxury car prop in movies and tv shows. If Eminem wouldn't drive the new 200 then he wouldn't have appeared behind the wheel. These are now very nicely appointed cars.


February 7, 2011 7:03 PM

I so don't agree with you and millions of Americans do not either. This was a great way to show Americans that we need to start buying American made cars again and Detroit is a city that needs our support.


February 7, 2011 7:12 PM

who cares? the ad made me proud to be a detroiter.


February 7, 2011 7:26 PM

I am from Detroit, and I will tell you their ad is a JOKE. Hard working they say? Anyone in the Detroit area laughs at that thought. American they say? Yeah, perhaps they forgot that they are NOT an American company any more. Made in America they say? Yeah, and what percentage of Chrysler vehicles are actually made in the U.S.? Not much. Chrysler should have been left for dead instead of wasting our taxpayer money. Pathetic cars, pathetic company.

rick weise

February 7, 2011 8:05 PM

This is a disgusting article. Say what you will but this was a fantastic looking car and eminem is the true symbol of detroit. That commercial was not only an advertisement, it is an extraordinary example of the hardships detroit has went through. Perhaps you would have to be from michigan to truly appreciate this, but to the michigan population i can guarantee most will agree that this was a work of art.


February 7, 2011 8:25 PM

This ad im pretty sure well the people I was around well all chevy or toyota people and a person said that 'it makes me want to buy american again or even that brand'well that big coming from a toyota driver

P R McGregor

February 7, 2011 8:27 PM

At first glance I would agree that the 200 was not the car to advertise on the Super Bowl, but I do think the ad was an overall success.

This was all about image and rebirth. It wasn't about the actual product, the new 200, but rather where they plan to go.

When was the last time you've seen Detroit portrayed so beautifully? (They got their money's worth from the DOP.) And I think that was part of the point. Time to take a second look at Detroit; time to take a second look at Chrysler.

Considering that the tag line was "Imported from Detroit", maybe the 200 wasn't such a bad choice. The only cars still actually assembled in Detroit are the Dodge Avenger and the Chrysler 200, so it really does come from Detroit, unlike the 300 which comes from Brampton, Ontario.

Another reason I think the ad works is that everybody, including you, is talking about it. Sales of the Sebring / 200 are incredibly low, so any increase would be a vast improvement.

James McClaren

February 7, 2011 8:50 PM

I think it's more about brand image and "soul of the company" than the actual product itself.

Eric Planey

February 7, 2011 9:17 PM

Sorry David but you are wrong on this one. For starters, if the ad featured the new 300, it could have been considered a rehash of the same audience the 300 ended up selling to when it launched in 2004 - the gangsta crowd. Your numbers on are probably correct, but you missed the point of the ad entirely when only looking at search engine hits for the car itself. Chrysler knows its tied in the psyche of the country with Detroit - a has been, bankrupt, down and out. This ad, brilliant by Fiat to go for it, said 'we no longer have to apologize for who we are to the rest of the world. Yes, Detroit is a mess, but we are still here, and we are not giving up.' In my world, economic development in Youngstown, Ohio, and in nearby cities, we all have been talking about this ad. There is a new trend in the rust belt that we are no longer ashamed to be a part of the rust belt. The cool areas of the US gave us over extended mortgages and financial institutions that nearly rolled the whole country.

If the car was an actor, it would be up for best supporting actor. The main part was played by Detroit, or the attitude of Detroit. This ad will move metal, and it already moved a city.


February 7, 2011 10:19 PM

I'm 22 and was about to get a civic SI. After watching the commercial i am now determined to get the 200. Your arguments are very weak.
1) 200 is not the wrong car, eminem portrays a young indvidual who went through a lot of hardship to get to the top. I feel that this ad has captured that element in its commercial.

2) It is true we did not see enough of the car. Its because marketing wanted people to google the car in the search engine. Let me tell you, i have been to a lot of different sites to look at more information and pictures.

3)Yes, Chrysler and Detroit are both trying to make a come back, and this is why it makes the ad so much more appealing. In their commercial they potray the car for individuals who have had a taste of the top but are at the bottom. Individuals who acheive through hardwork is always the strongest ones on the top.

4)Yes, many people have abadoned the Chrysler name. But they are designing sleek cars and offering very affordable prices which are attracting buyers from all age groups.

Also you tried to create an illusion of the commercial having flop reaction with your statistics. I personally have not heard of But if you want statistics you can search up the video on youtube. In just two days it has almost reached 2 million views.

Again, i don't know why i spent 5 minutes writing a comment, but i just find your article very biased..seems like you are worried of the 200 line from Chrysler because you bought stock in a Japanese auto maker..LOL

Jon Gabrielsen

February 8, 2011 8:46 AM

All very true but as a S.E. MI Expat living elsewhere for the last 11 years it still brought tears to my eyes - but great cinema does not mean great sales results.


February 8, 2011 10:00 AM

Welch makes some good points however, the fact Chrysler has the wherewithal to roll the dice on such an ad is to say the least commendable...yes, a different vehicle would have made more impact but give "C" student a break!

Welch - your thoughts on the VW Little Darth Vader ad...what say you?

Scott Burgess

February 8, 2011 10:28 AM

Well said David - though I still liked the commercial.


February 8, 2011 10:53 AM

The commercial was just what they needed. What they don't need is some idiot like you trying to put your two cents in while its clear you have never been "to hell and back" in your whole life. Talk about things you know about and leave Detroit alone.

Les Malcovitch

February 8, 2011 11:05 AM

David Welch, you should be embarrassed and humbled by your total lack of perception.

The ad was a triumph for Chrysler. In two uplifting, joyous minutes it convinced me - and dozens of people i have talked to in the past two days - that Chrysler is tough, gritty, and proudly back.

Before the ad, I would not even consider a Chrysler product. Now, i will seek out a Chrysler dealer, congratulate him or her, test drive a 200, and a 300 - and almost certainly, buy a Chrysler.

Oh yes - I live in New York.

J Anton

February 8, 2011 11:23 AM

This writer is completely missing the point of that commercial. It was less about the Chrysler 200 and more about telling a story of redemption and determination. America used to be quite proud of what we produced coming out of Detroit and I think most of us still understand that there is a deep history there. Think about the nation rallied behind New Orleans after Katrina. What Detroit has been through has been horrific even if partially self-inflicted. I think the ad did a great job in rekindling some of the 'Buy American' pride that Detroit was a champion of for so long. I actually got goosebumps watching it and that's rare for a commercial to have that type of effect on me. I think the one misstep they made was that I would have shown glimpses of the entire line-up of cars instead of focusing on the 200.

Robert Laughing

February 8, 2011 12:01 PM

The ad states ''What we're capable of....' BELIEVE ME, America KNOWS all too well, what detroit is capable, AND CULPABLE of...doing!!!! It's WHY, no one wants Chrysler, whether it's Eminem, or Ricardo Montelban and that FAKE 'Corinthian Leather.' GREAT styling, but ZERO engineering, and even less dependability. The LAST 'Good' Chrysler/Dodge/Plymouth was mid 60s.....after that....well exactly! Bankrupt!!!


February 8, 2011 2:39 PM

Face it.... we're coming back. Even if you don't like it. Most people do!


February 8, 2011 2:45 PM

The Ad was emotionally moving but i agree with the author of this article that it should have been used for the 300.


February 9, 2011 10:28 AM

I thought featuring the 200 was a mistake, too. But the commercial certainly achieved what it needed to:
1. cut through the clutter
2. was memorable
3. was brand oriented
4. Made the car look good (by not showing much of it, admittedly)
The ad was never going to magically generate sales, like admen always think, but I think it seriously overachieved compared to their previous pitches. It's getting better, but Chrysler is just a tough sell right now.

John Voelcker

February 9, 2011 11:54 AM

Amen. With bells on. I'm shocked at the luv-luv-LUV that's been spilling out in rafts of electrons since the ad ran. I finally had to say my piece, in rather more words (I'm afraid) than you did, David:


February 9, 2011 11:59 AM

Why should chrysler care about spending millions on an ad? Its not their money. Its ours. Besides Chrysler is now Renault, a French subsidized company. Let the dead be dead.


February 9, 2011 1:21 PM

Cheap trick. The affluent are not that foolish. Maybe if goats had money, they would fall for the catch.


February 9, 2011 3:34 PM

It is about quality cars not image and advertising.


February 10, 2011 1:59 AM

I dont know about this...there may be some true to your story but Marchionne is reviving Chrysler cant get out of trouble in just a day - it takes years. the commercial was focused toward sales but most of it was to show that Chrysler (and the other automakers) are back...and the employees are happy with it. it increases employee morale also. you have to understand the full meaning of the commercial in order to write about it. i think you have seen it once and started to write a crappy story. look at its focus. look at its audience. look at what is trying to achieve...The city symbolizes the automakers who are revived. understand the full meaning and then you will write a better story next time

Simple Boy

February 10, 2011 5:19 AM

This article misses the target audience. I was at a conference in the South and people raved about the AD. They were proud of the Grit and Comeback story delivered in the AD during these tough times. The AD was effective in the awareness that it created.


February 11, 2011 5:53 AM

Chrysler and australia have a long standing history its just a shame the aussie market only seem to pick base model cars for autralia Examples


February 12, 2011 12:48 AM

Why are they no longer playing him in the commercial anymore? Did he only sign rights for the Super Bowl? They Still play the song but no longer show him.


February 19, 2011 5:37 PM

Mr. Welch, I was a bit taken aback by your analysis of the commercial.

As a Detroit-based writer, surely you could acknowledge that given the shots of regal homes, downtown retail, The FOX, The Spirit, and Campus Martius, the ad was not solely comprised of "gritty Detroit imagery".

If the ad HAD been 100% gritty Detroit, however, surely you could acknowledge that criticism would yet abound: "why is Detroit hiding its scars?" "that's not the REAL Detroit" etc. etc.

Finally, in your words, " the rest of the nation...Detroit as a city has been left for dead." We know. Hence the ad's message: simply, some people just don't know what we're capable of.

Those people? Well, they can stay tuned.

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Want the straight scoop on the auto industry? Our man in Detroit David Welch, brings keen observations and provocative perspective on the auto business.

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