Let’s try something different. Let’s see if we can actually learn something about marketing from a Super Bowl ad rather than just give it a thumbs up or thumbs down.
Famous American performer praises American car company against a background intended to evoke American pride. Each has a tone that’s a bit surly – as if confronting Americans who would stray from the tribe to get back in the fold.
I liked the Eminem ad. I thought it worked. The Dylan ad, in contrast, was an abysmal failure. Now, I’m not in the business of making Super Bowl ads, and I’ll bet you’re not either. But we can still learn from this failure and apply it to our marketing efforts:
Don’t undercut your emotional pitch with factual mistakes:
Many commenters were quick to point out that Chrysler technically isn’t even an American company. Italy’s Fiat has been a partial owner for years and took over full ownership in early January. Chrysler was sold to Mercedes-Benz in 1998 and later to a private equity firm. And while it’s vague, the commercial suggests that America invented cars or pioneered the manufacturing of them, neither of which is true. America made a large contribution with the introduction of mass-manufacturing techniques, courtesy not of Chrysler but of Ford. Contrast this with the Eminem commercial, which makes no such claims. Rather, the Eminem version bravely embraces the bitter reality that Detroit has seen better days.
Pick a spokesperson with a connection to your product, no matter how slim:
No one really believes that either Dylan or Eminem know much about cars or did some thorough road-testing before they agreed to promote the Chrysler 200. But Eminem, at least, is actually from Detroit. His ad isn’t touting the car as much as the town and the
people who live there. The script has a narrator do all the heavy-lifting in the Eminem ad, while Dylan does all the talking in his ad. That’s a problem, because the ad producers had him say things that you wouldn’t expect a man of Dylan’s lyric-writing stature to say, such as “we believe in the zoom, and the roar, and the thrust” and “Is there anything more American than America?” (Scroll to the bottom to see the complete narration.) All Eminem said was “This is the Motor City, and this is what we do.”
Don’t tell us how to shop:
If you’re going to try to shame us into buying a product out of pride in being Americans, don’t confuse the issue by telling us which products we should buy from other countries. Dylan and company tell us it’s okay to buy beer from Germany, watches from Switzerland and phones from Asia. Conan O’Brien had a field day with that, adding that in the uncut version we should buy our water from France, cheese from Denmark, tech support from India, piñatas from Mexico, dental floss from Canada, cargo shorts from Costa Rica, sea bass from Chile, chia pets from Yemen and animated torture core from Japan.
The overarching reason this ad is such a failure is that it seems so inauthentic, and audiences can sense that far more than ad creators realize. The reason why Conan O’Brien’s reference to all those other countries is funny is because by and large people know how manufacturing works in 2014. We know that our products come from all over the world, so counting on us to find a car appealing just because it’s American made is a little insulting. We might assume that Eminem would walk into a Detroit auditorium where a gospel group is singing, but we don’t really think Bob Dylan is playing pool in a neighborhood bar.
Nostalgia can be a powerful way of selling something. But effective marketing communications have to recognize the reality of today’s audience and marketplace. Global trade and transparency are here to stay. We all better get used to it.
The complete script:
Is there anything more American than America?
‘Cause you can’t import original.
You can’t fake true cool.
You can’t duplicate legacy.
Because what Detroit created was a first
and became an inspiration to the… rest of the world.
Yeah … Detroit made cars. And cars made America.
Making the best, making the finest, takes conviction.
And you can’t import, the heart and soul, of every man and woman working on the line.
You can search the world over for the finer things,
but you won’t find a match for the American road
and the creatures that live on it.
Because we believe in the zoom,
and the roar, and the thrust.
And when it’s made here, it’s made with the one thing
you can’t import from anywhere else. American…Pride.
So let Germany brew your beer,
Let Switzerland make your watch,
Let Asia assemble your phone.
We … will build … your car.