Chrysler’s Super Bowl ad became notorious for all the wrong reasons, after it was pulled by YouTube in a move that raised fresh questions over the video sharing platform’s content management controls.
The video, which was written and developed together with Hollywood legend, Clint Eastwood, is a follow-on to last year’s Eminem-led production, “Imported from Detroit”, but rather than focus on Chrysler’s product it’s about shared values.
In the ad, 81-year old Eastwood gives a pep-talk to America, narrating the story of Detroit’s Motor City digging deep, despite tough economic conditions and coming out fighting with true American spirit.
But it’s not really an advert, not in the literal sense, Eastwood had to be convinced that it wouldn’t be a commercial before getting involved. Instead it’s a rallying cry for America to unite and show the world its resilience, hard work, drive and humility – preferably whilst driving around in Chryslers.
How does this grab you?
“This country can’t be knocked out with one punch. We get right back up again and when we do the world’s going to hear the roar of our engines. Yeah. It’s half-time America, and our second half is about to begin.”
Powerful stuff eh?
Chrysler ran the 2-minute ad at the very end of the game’s half-time break and since broadcaster NBC were charging up to $3.5m for a 30-second spot, one can only guess what Chrysler spent securing this high-profile position.
What went wrong?
So, amid such a powerful and inspiring message, it came as something of a surprise when the ad was taken down from YouTube for much of last Monday.
A claim was made by the NFL (Super Bowl rights holders) that the ad violated their copyrights and even though Google’s copyright policies require proof to be provided, their vetting of NFL’s claim seems to have slipped through this particular net.
Officials at the NFL subsequently denied sending the takedown notice, but Automotive blog, Jalopnik, unearthed the truth.
“It really was a misunderstanding. Someone was under the impression we were taking advantage of the NFL show, which is copyright protected…
NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy confirmed in a statement:
“A third-party vendor monitoring game content mistakenly sent a takedown notice… The vendor thought the ad was part of the halftime programming, which is protected, and not a commercial.”
So, the NFL had no issue with the ad. Chrysler did nothing to violate their copyright and neither NBC nor Google had any objection to its content. Indeed, the NFL even hosted the ad on their own website.
Chrysler’s Chief Marketing Officer, Olivier Francois, said in an interview with AdAge yesterday:
“It really was a misunderstanding. Someone was under the impression we were taking advantage of the NFL show [which is copyright protected]. We are attempting to assess what the impact was. I’m not saying we’re satisfied with what happened.”
Despite claims of there being a partisan nod towards President Obama’s automotive bailouts, Eastwood has strenuously denied any such affiliation. Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, he said:
“It was meant to be a message.. just about job growth and the spirit of America. I think all politicians will agree with it. I thought the spirit was OK. I just want to say that the spin stops with you guys, and there is no spin in that ad. On this I am certain.”
He also went on to say that the fee he received from the ad was donated to charity.
Chrysler have gained significant exposure from the media coverage of Google’s gaffe and the number of people who’ve watched the ad on YouTube is more than double that of the company’s Eminem ad at the same point last year, so perhaps there’s a silver-lining to the cloud that formed over Detroit last Monday.
You can see other ads which kicked up controversy at this year’s Super Bowl in the article – On the edge or a step too far? The Super Bowl ads that crossed the line.
Back in Blighty
Chrysler are on a big push to re-invent their brand in the UK during 2012. Whilst the Eastwood Super Bowl ad was for American audiences, Chrysler UK have at the same time launched a series of ads here in the UK, aiming to convey its uniquely gritty, urban reputation.
The £10 million Different Is What We Do campaign is led by three major television commercials, the first of which ran on Sky TV last Sunday.
The TV commercial, opens with the new 300C cruising through the ‘Motor City’ of Detroit, USA. It emerges from a tunnel on to the streets of inner London, where it is joined by the rest of the Chrysler range.
Chrysler are hoping British buyers will identify with the spirit of its brand, as also conveyed in the Eastwood ad, and the pride in the things they make.