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Halftime in America

by Bill Cawthon on

If, for some reason, you missed the new Chrysler ad, “Halftime in America,” that aired during Super Bowl XLVI, it is linked from our 2012 Super Bowl ad page along with stills, the transcript, and commentary.

Yesterday, CNN’s Patricia Wu spoke with Mark Stevens, soi disant marketing expert and author of the book Your Marketing Sucks, who questioned the money spent on these spots.

“It has nothing to do with cars, nothing to do with cars,” said Stevens. “It has everything to do with the Beavis and Buttheads of the agency trying to be cool and trying to win an award. And let me tell you business owners who are not playing with corporate treasury dolls would never, ever give their own money for that. That to me is the acid test.”

Sounds like the only marketing at which Mr. Stevens might be an expert involves shopping carts and groceries. Apparently, he doesn’t have a good grasp of successful corporate advertising. The “Born of Fire” ad Chrysler ran last year was a phenomenal success, creating such a positive response from viewers that imitations sprang up almost instantly and generating millions of views of the ad itself on YouTube. Beyond that, it created a positive buzz for Chrysler Group, which was the entire point and goal of the ad.

This year, building on the “Imported from Detroit” theme, Clint Eastwood took the message nationwide.

Automotive News is already calling the ad a “Hit” among the many automotive ads that aired tonight. Larry Vellequette’s report from the NADA convention describes the scene when the ad was shown to dealers yesterday: “A packed room of Chrysler Group dealers were described as ‘visibly emotional’ and ‘misty-eyed’ after watching a preview of the automaker’s two-minute Super Bowl commercial Sunday morning during their make meeting led, unexpectedly, by Chrysler-Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne.

“People had to compose themselves after seeing it,” said David Kelleher, chairman of the National Chrysler Dealer Council. “It blows people away.”

As for the rest of us, “Yeah, it’s halftime America. And, our second half is about to begin.”

Fiat’s “Seduction” ad, featuring Catrinel Menghia and Matthew Rocheleau, aired during the 2012 NFL Championship Game. The ad, which has already aired on VH1 and generated a huge volume of hits on YouTube, has generated its own buzz and was considered possibly too racy for broadcast television.

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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