Impressions of the Chrysler Super Bowl ad

Feb 7, 2011

The "Imported from Detroit" commercial stirred a lot of pride around these parts, and on Michigan Radio's Facebook page.

We posted it last night and the "likes" and comments about pride started flowing:

  • "Gave me chills and made me proud to be a born in Detroiter."
  • "This is the kind of thing we need for our area. This commercial gave me goose bumps."
  • "Great commercial! I'm proud to be from Michigan!"
  • "Chills...I almost started crying! But, I have had almost 14 beers."

Just up I-96, the profs at MSU's Department of Advertising, Public Relations, and Retailing, who release an annual ranking of Super Bowl commercials, put the Chrysler ad in third place – tied with the ads from Audi, PepsiMax, Hyundai, and Bud-Light.

First and second place went to German car-maker Volkswagen (first went to the Darth Vader ad, and second went to the VW Beetle ad).

When I asked them, "why third?"  MSU instructor and the organizer behind the MSU rankings, Bob Kolt, said the margin between 1st and 3rd was quite small, "If a few professors had changed their ranking of the commercial slightly, it could have easily been put in the top spot."

Kolt, who also heads up his own communications group - Kolt Communications, said 23 MSU faculty members from the Department of Advertising, Public Relations, and Retailing came to his home and ranked the Super Bowl ads on a 1 to 5 scale.

The rankings were based on things like production quality, message, branding strategy, and the buzz the commercial could create.

Kolt said the 2-minute Chrysler ad was really a "transformational ad for Chrysler and for the auto industry" because it took two minutes to tell a story about Detroit. Kolt said that level of storytelling is something you don't often see in commercials:

"Detroit people see themselves as tough and hardy. That's not always sellable, but they made 'tough' attractive with this ad. It almost made you feel patriotic to be supportive of the ad."

Kolt said it will be interesting to see what happens to the ad now that the Super Bowl is over.

Will Chrysler air it again? And if they do, how will they edit down the two-minute commercial? A two minute ad is expensive, so companies often scale back their longer ads. Will an edited down ad have the same effect?

Whether we see it on the airwaves or not, the ad is certainly making an impact on YouTube. It was released yesterday and currently has close to 1 million views. The top-ranked Volkswagen ad was released last Friday and has 16 million views.