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Chrysler’s new “Born of Fire” campaign makes Super Bowl debut

by Bill Cawthon on

Chrysler’s newest ad, featuring Detroit musician, Eminem, aired for the first time last night. With a tagline of “Imported from Detroit,” the ad couldn’t fail to stir something in the soul of any Detroiter or ex-Detroiter, like myself.

Produced and aired with a reported $9 million budget, the ad begins with actor Kevin Yon, a native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, asking, “I got a question for you. What does this city know about luxury? Hunh?” The narration continues over a tour of Detroit scenes. Eminem’s Academy Award-winning song “Lose Yourself” plays in the background as the star drives a new Chrysler 200 up to the historic Fox Theater on Woodward Avenue. Going into the theater where a choir is performing, Eminem turns and points at the camera, saying, “This is the Motor City. And this is what we do.”

Speaking of the ad, Olivier Francois, head of Chrysler Group marketing, said: “Super Bowl advertising is about making a statement and capturing the attention of the audience. ‘Born of Fire’ is designed to generate conversation about the brand and the new 2011 Chrysler 200. The spot reflects where the brand is headed and pays tribute to our industrial roots.”

The spot was created by Wieden + Kennedy of Portland, Oregon, which was recently named Advertising Age’s “Agency of the Year.”

According to post-game viewer polls, the ad was well received with many ranking the Chrysler spot among the top 10. Annie Barrett of Entertainment Weekly said it was one of the five best commercials broadcast. Peter Hartlaub of the San Francisco Chronicle ranked it No. 2 and wrote: “… an inspiring runner-up… arrived courtesy of Eminem of all people. Following a lesser ad earlier in the game for Lipton Brisk ice tea, the rapper narrated and appeared in a pulse-pumping pro-American manufacturing spot for Chrysler. Like very few of the 2011 Super Bowl ads, it picked up on the national zeitgeist and left viewers feeling good.” Reuters said, “A Chrysler commercial featuring rapper Eminem and a lighthearted Volkswagen advertisement triumphed on Super Bowl Sunday, as the annual battle of the brands turned into an all-out marketing blitz by automakers.”

Perhaps Rick Rojas of the Los Angeles Times summed it up best, “”Chrysler seems to say that Detroit isn’t dead, and maybe the spirit of Americans making things isn’t dead either.”

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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