Chrysler’s Super Bowl Controversy

02.10.2012 | Kari Day

Did you catch Chrysler’s commercial featuring Clint Eastwood during last Sunday’s Super Bowl? More than 100 million people tuned in to watch the commercials. What makes this Clint Eastwood spot significant over the other commercials is the amount of buzz and media coverage it has received since its airing.

In case you missed it, the ad features Clint Eastwood giving a half-time pep talk to America, saying, “This country can’t be knocked out with one punch. We get right back up again and, when we do, the world is gonna hear the roar of our engines. Yeah, it’s halftime America, and the second half is about to begin.”

Let’s assume for a minute there was no political agenda – after all, I’ve read pretty persuasive arguments from all corners of the political spectrum – and that the ad was just an ad. Let’s also assume that the ensuing political controversy was unexpected by Chrysler – executives said there was no political message intended – it was just an ad. Now, think about the enviable position Chrysler has found itself in.

The ad is thought provoking and timely. Context and timing are two crucial elements that must be considered in any marketing communications program and Chrysler nailed it. Timing a message appropriately is a key factor, and in this case, is tied to the American public’s state of mind.

While media coverage has primarily focused on the potential political nature of the message, there’s no denying the press coverage has worked to put Chrysler at the forefront of people’s attention. After all, successful public relations campaigns are one of the most strategic tools a company can employ to communicate with their customers and potential customers.

Chrysler and its ad agency, Wieden & Kennedy, made a great ad, there’s no debating that. Since the commercial aired, the company has stated that it wasn’t a political message at all, but a message to Americans in general. Chrysler wasn’t calling for political change nor were they thanking the current administration for the tax-fund bailout. Regardless, it still worked.

Context and timing.


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