Chrysler’s “Imported From Detroit” ad has been called one of the best commercials of Super Bowl XLV. “It’s not like we set out to do a two-minute commercial with Eminem,” Melissa Garlick, head of Chrysler advertising, tells EW. He was originally approached just about using “Lose Yourself” in the ad because it’s a great comeback anthem. The more Chrysler management, including CEO Sergio Marchionne, spoke with him, the more they realized they shared the same passion for the city, and he agreed to be in the commercial. “We weren’t looking to make him a spokesperson or a sales pitch guy. We wanted him to talk from the heart,” Garlick says. It just felt natural for him to deliver the final line in the script: “This is the Motor City, and this is what we do.”
The spot was directed and shot by Samuel Bayer — the commercial, music video and feature director who helmed “Smells Like Teen Spirit” for Nirvana and multiple American Idiot videos for Green Day — who impressed Chrysler and Portland-based ad agency Wieden + Kennedy with his treatment. “From a cinematic quality, we wanted this to be a very organic execution. We didn’t want it to be over-produced. He picked up on that,” Garlick says, adding that Bayer spent a few weeks in Detroit getting to know the city before the official five-day shoot in mid-January. (He had a handful of hours with Eminem on one of those days. This is the only Chrysler commercial Eminem’s set to appear in, but his music will be used in other Chrysler 200 spots over the coming months.)
Chrysler originally bought two 60-second spots with the plan for one of them to be a Chrysler 200 ad, Garlick says. The company had to request special permission from the NFL to extend the standard 90-second break to two minutes — and get other advertisers to move, because the minutes it originally bought were in two different quarters. “The original intent was to develop a spot for the relaunch of the Chrysler brand, but I think we were pretty realistic about some of the sentiment that existed about Chrysler, about Detroit, about the automotive industry domestically. There’s been a lot of hard work and effort that’s gone on around here over the last year, and we just wanted to tell our story in a very optimistic light, not to be apologetic — we are who we are — and to take credit for the people and the fabric of this town.”
While the vast majority of viewers were moved by the spot, there are some who didn’t buy the message. “We’re not surprised by that,” Garlick says. “What we talk about is really more of an American story. I think it’s the idea that in America, you can do anything that you set your mind to if you have enough conviction and will power. And I think people deserve second chances, and I think everyone loves a comeback. No doubt, we expected some people to be skeptical, but there’s been a lot blood, sweat, and tears put into the products we’re bringing forward, and we’re very proud of them. I don’t think people will be disappointed.”
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