The dust has settled around Super Bowl XLV and the public has voted. Volkswagen of America took the top honors for favorite car commercial. “The Force” appeals to the generation of parents who grew up on the Star Wars films. People know the characters, lines from the movies as well as John Williams’ iconic scores, including “The Imperial March.”
The commercial advertises the upcoming 2012 Passat sedan, built in VW’s brand new North American facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I’m not sure if it will sell the Passat (whenever it arrives later this year), but the little kid in the Darth Vader outfit is beyond adorable. The commercial itself cost almost nothing to cast and shoot, but I’m sure Lucasfilm Ltd. got a big fat check for the use of the character and John Williams for the music. It cost VW $6 million to air the one minute commercial; but with a Super Bowl viewership of 111 million and nearly 30 million views on YouTube, they got a huge bang for their buck.
The most surprising commercial was Chrysler’s two minute film entitled “Born of Fire” or “Imported from Detroit” featuring the music, image and voice over of the brilliant, supremely talented, but troubled Detroit-based rapper, Eminem (Marshall Mathers). The images of Detroit are rich and dark, uplifting and sobering. It shows a city that has been through hell and is only now emerging.
The problem with this beautifully-shot and well-written “feel good” commercial is that it features the wrong car. The car should have been for the revamped 300C, not a face-lifted Sebring, renamed the 200. The Chrysler 200 is not a luxury car, so when the video talks about luxury, you have to scratch your head. The screaming headline in this week’s issue of Automotive News says “Super Buzz: Chrysler dealers aim to cash in on the surprising 200 commercial.”
Not so fast. As only Peter De Lorenzo, the Autoextermist.com Editor, can put it:
But I am now going to throw some icy cold water on this spot — and the reaction to it — because it’s simply out of hand. Our local media in particular has been flat-out sickening in its gushing, over-the-top praise, as if it was the only spot worth talking about on the Super Bowl. Well guess what? It wasn’t. And it does no good for people in this town to say how great the spot was because ultimately what the people in this town think about it doesn’t matter. It’s what everyone else across America thinks about it. And by the way, Chrysler choosing the pathetic 200 for the spot was a monumental miss. The 200 remains a rolling monument to automotive tedium and no matter how much make-up and lipstick you put on a pig, it’s still a pig. The spot should have featured the 300 or shouldn’t have mentioned a specific car at all. It would have been just fine as a Chrysler corporate postcard to Detroit and leave it at that.
I couldn’t agree more with Peter. This commercial isn’t going to sell the 200. It will take a miracle to sell more units to customers than to rental fleets.
Here’s the commercial; see what you think. (And if you want to learn more about Eminem, you should check out his October 2010 interview on 60 Minutes with Anderson Cooper.)