Eminem's Chrysler Super Bowl ad: Behind the scenes of one of Sunday's best commercials

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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Super Bowl XLV: Best and worst commercials?

Comments (90 total) Add your comment
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  • LOL

    Detroit Rock City!

  • tn

    This commercial was so powerful. It made me wanna yell “F*uck Yeah America!” I loved it.

    • parkR

      this needs to be show before every Detroit home game to pump up the crowd

      • Laurie

        Agreed! Calling Mike Illitch, the Wings need this stat.

    • helenann

      I completely agree.

    • renee

      i cried. and sorry, i disagree with anyone who wasn’t moved, or felt the ad did a disservice to chrysler or the city of detroit. i own a pontiac gran am which is no longer produced. i will seriously look at a chrysler for my next car. AND I LOVE DETROIT!!! great city.

      • Felony Lohan

        WOW what a little PR can do! Eminem is a SERIAL WIFE BEATER & DRUG ADDICT! Why is everyone not calling him a WIFE BEATER? Why has he been able to have a career in music even after everyone knows he beat his wife Kim for years? Can we all name at least 1 person who the media has gone out of its way to crush and destroy for far less? What hypocrisy! He beats wife and gets 10 grammy nominations singing about his DV life style with his wife! He beats his wife and gets a car endorsement deal? Wow I wish all entertainers had some of that Eminem, Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan privilege!

      • DTR

        Hey, that’s why Eminem chose the Chrysler 200, it has room for 3 pregnant girlfriends in the trunk! The pride is back!

  • DW Griffith

    Anybody notice Alissa Czisny, the US Nationals ladies figure skater Gold medal champion at :54? That told me it was an upscale commercial.

    • Sk8r

      That was the best part of the ad for this figure skater!

      • SM

        She trains in Detroit. I thought it was great to include a different aspect of the city.

    • Lisa

      I dug that she was in it and on the heels of her Nationals win! But overall it was a great commercial. Will I buy a Chrysler? No. But I can still appreciate the ad.

  • whatever

    Our tax dollars hard at work. How GM ended up with TARP money confounds me. Then, to spend our tax money for one of the most of the most expensive commercials (2 min @ Superbowl) is a total slap across the face.

    • thin

      Your tax dollars at work saved a large American company that has now paid back those tax dollars with interest, so you can take your ignorant indignation somewhere else. None of your money was spent here.

      • DTR

        GM and Chrysler have NOT paid back all the money. GM/GMAC has $44 billion still in their pockets, and Chrysler another $9 billion. Please get the facts before you call other people ignorant.

      • Justin P

        Wrong, thin. You must have confused American car companies with American wall street companies that largely DID pay back the TARP money with interest

    • Paul

      Although they suffered similar fate, the commercial was for Chrysler not GM.

      • Everyday American

        It just goes to show the absolute cluelessness of “whatever.” So goes with anti-American partisan hacks. Who needs facts when you have platitudes? Sounds to me like “whatever” could use a slap across the face to wake him or her up to reality.

        It’s hilarious that this dumb comment didn’t even get the company right.

    • Zowar1363

      To revive the American auto market is a far better investment then to spend one dollar of tax-payer money on greedy bank-execs’ undeserved bonuses!

      • Kim

        Never been a Chrysler fan until now. That Commercial rocked from beginning to end. They’re totally appealing to a new demographic & I applaud them. You go Chrysler!

    • S.

      Considering that all the foreign auto companies are subsidized by their home countries, it was more about leveling the competition.

    • Guy

      And the company got 10x more positive buzz than they spent. Consideration was up 1600% on one auto website–greatly enhancing the speed and likelihood of a taxpayer pay-back.

    • AB

      Idiot, they paid that back already. They’re out of TARP. This is their own money they’re spending.

      • DTR

        No, they’re not out of TARP. Not even close. They owe $9 billion yet, and GM/GMAC owes $44 billion more. Check out bailout.propublica.org/list before you call other people idiots.

      • Everyday American

        It’s safe to call someone an idiot who couldn’t even get the brand right.

    • peggers

      After Pearl Harbor Chrysler retooled several plants to produce combat vehicles, at their own expense. They didn’t ask the taxpayers to pay them back. They also donated 10 million dollars to 911 relief fund. When they were on top, they spread it around. I would rather have my tax dollars helping them out instead of alot of what I see those dollars being spent on.

      • DTR

        Ford did a lot of charity work in past decades too, but somehow they still exist without feeding off the US taxpayer. If you want to help Chrysler out, great, go write them a check. Just don’t reach into my pocket to bail out people making crappy cars for $40/hour.

      • Everyday American

        You’re right, DTR. The money is better off going to unskilled idiots on Wall Street making six-figures a year to not do anything conducive to the well being of our country. And for someone so hellbent on facts, you seem to fudge a few yourself if you think the average UAW worker makes $40/hr. Maybe you should check your own facts before criticizing others. I doubt the money “from your pocket” is enough to matter anyway.

      • DTR

        It shouldn’t have gone to Wall Street either, but at least they’ve mostly paid the money back, unlike the auto companies, who make TV commercials lying about how they’ve paid it all back when they haven’t.
        The UAW base rate is $28/hour. Throw in overtime, a pension, and other benefits, and you’re easily at $40/hour.

      • Ann

        So..it was ok to give money to the cheaters on wall street because they paid us back….oh! btw they paid us back by betting against the American people on the stock market. Go lookup how the vampire squid Goldman Sachs made their money back. Or how JP Morgan helped Madoff screw over his clients.
        So yes the money should have gone to the Auto companies. They are in the process of paying their LOAN back and making the necessary changes to their quality and product offerings. They at least are making things. Wall Street makes what??? Derivatives..if you can explain to me what a derivative is then hats off to you. The UAW created the middle class in this country. They were responsible for establishing the standard benefits that most companies offer. At least when you besmirch the UAW think about that and how they contributed to the benefits you enjoy. easy to pull somebody down when they are already down isn’t it? I just hope your industry/country/company does not go thru the same.

      • DTR

        You obviously didn’t read my post right above yours, where I say “it shouldn’t have gone to Wall Street either”. Wall Street’s done a lot of stupid things, but if you want something positive, you could start with.. the IPO of the new GM, which BofA, Citi, Morgan Stanley, and JP Morgan underwrote.
        The UAW was founded in 1935. Twenty-one years earlier, in 1914, Henry Ford was already paying workers above-wages and a 40-hour week. Why? So he’d get better workers who’d stick around longer. What a concept! No union was required.
        It’s easy to besmirch the UAW because instead of trying to compete with Toyota, Honda, etc., they ran crying to Uncle Sugar for welfare.
        My industry? Do you think only GM & Chrysler went through the recession? There are 8 million people out of work, and most of them didn’t get a handout.
        Did you know GM & Chrysler are handing out BONUS CHECKS to their employees while they still owe the taxpayers billions? But I’m sure the same people who were all over AIG will criticize this…right.

    • Everyday American

      GM? Your comment is so full of fail.

      And it’s amazing how people can yap on about their “patriotism,” but don’t demonstrate actual patriotism. You are bad for the country.

      • DTR

        You are confusing General Motors with the United States of America.

    • cathy

      Need to know your stats dude. That money is paid in full, ahead of schedule. Long live DETROIT!!

      • DTR

        Last year’s TV commercial where GM’s CEO bragged about paying the loan back ahead of schedule was extremely misleading. The loan was only $6 billion, a small fraction of the $50 billion+ they actually got. Most of that has yet to be repaid.

    • lizzielou

      Do some research – we got that money back and then some.

    • jmo


    • r e

      If this is a slap in the face, then Toyota selling as many cars as it does in the United States, despite the types of recent recalls from this company, is like a taking 12 gage to the head!

  • Gilmoure93

    Great commercial…but do we all seem to forget that “imported from Detroit” is also owned by FIAT?

    • rubytues

      fitting since Fiat owns most of Chryslers assets

  • Dan

    Actually, 63% of Chrysler is currently owned by the UAW’s VEBA (the entity responsible for UAW member healthcare and pension benefits), so the company is owned by its employees more than any major industrial company in recent memory

  • Mme KC

    I loved it, it felt really powerful. It was uplifting and strong without being sappy. This is the only commercial from Superbowl that I actively sought for because I wanted to see it (didn’t watch the game), and I admit I’ve watched it a handful of times today.

  • KC

    Oooooh. M&M is tough.

    • UGH

      I feel ya. I like his music but his tough-guy persona is kinda weak.

    • Liley

      My older sister asked if I saw the “M&M” commercial. I told her No, I missed that one. LMAO

      No matter what you think of Detroit or the Chrysler Corporation, it was a powerful commercial!

  • C Perry

    If from Detroit! This commercial made me miss home and this great city really needs and deserves this commercial and an economical comeback! Help restore the greatness to one of our great cities support Detroit MI

  • Sally in Chicago

    I’m an exiled Detroiter and loved the ad. M&M looked adult and sober and better than he’s looked in years.

  • jason

    I have lived in Mi. my whole life and just had to move to iowa to find work. Seeing this commercial made me so proud of my hometown/state it brought tears to my eyes. I love the motor city and cant wait to get back. Detroit Rocks!

  • fireflystare221

    Fantastic commercial. That is really all there is to say. I loved it.

  • Barbara Lanier

    Very effective and awesome add. Eminem didn’t speak much at all. But his presence was strongly felt. I thought I heard the Movie 8 soundtrack in there which I deeply love and appreciate. I have been looking for vehicles especially for our teenager. All of our cars are 8+ years and older. My car is 13+ years. I never would have considered Chrysler as a viable option for our next vehicle. I like what the 200 represents. It isn’t too flashy, seems practical and smart. Now, Chrysler has earned a consideration from us for our next vehicle. I like the fact that more is said when less words are spoken.

    • UGH

      Just don’t buy a Chrysler that is over 5 years old. Not very dependable cars.

  • Grr

    Yeah, considering my Chrysler just died at 75k miles, I don’t think even Eminem could convince me to buy another one.

  • Laura

    Not true – my PT Cruiser is 9 years old and going strong!

    • Heather P

      Yep, I love my Grand Caravan. Doing great at 180,000 miles and counting.

      • fred skidmore

        Another 13 miles and my 2000 Grand Caravan will hit 300,000 miles. Run good & still looks great!

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