‘Imported From Detroit’ rebrands Chrysler and the city it calls home

Last year it was Google’s Parisian Love commercial that took home the prize for best Super Bowl commercial with its clever way to highlight the benefits of using Google search through an identifiable love story.  This year’s winner is much different.

Imported From Detroit by Chrysler embodied an overall theme this year of brand identity.  The theme started with the obvious efforts of the National Football League to brand football as America’s sport with its pregame festivities.  In the two-minute commercial spot, Chrysler was able to do several things.  They highlighted Detroit’s powerful past, its mighty fall from grace and its present existance as an American powerhouse city (11th largest MSA in the United States with nearly 4.5 million people).

All at once, the commercial was able to sell the audience on a new perception of Detroit, the strength of an industry and the quality of car.  The selection of Eminem also seemed particularly apt given Eminem’s identity and music being so closely tied to the city he calls home.

What was particularly interesting to me was the fighting nature of the commercial.  For decades Midwestern cities have been beaten up by the media as their stagnating growth and economic woes have made them look inept in the face of explosive growth in the Sun Belt.  While Midwestern cities have envied the growth seen in the Sun Belt, those southern cities have often been envious of the culture and history found in the Midwest and Northeast.  This commercial highlighted just that and said, we’ve got a lot of fight left in us and you’ve already thrown your best shot.

Immediately the commercial was seen as the runaway winner in this year’s Ad Bowl, but what do you think?

  • J

    Definitely one of the most memorable commercials from the Super Bowl.

  • Pol

    Gave me goosebumps! It was my favorite one by far.

  • Ryan L

    I saw this commercial, and immediately thought of you, UrbanCincy, and how much you would like it. My family is from Detroit, and it was nice seeing such a serious and well thought out commercial during the Super Bowl. Made the city look great. It also made me think what company would be willing to do that for Cincinnati. I guess it shows the potential for Detroit’s rebound.

  • Jake Mecklenborg

    They complain about people saying bad things about Detroit who haven’t been there. Well actually going there is way worse than you can imagine.

  • TT

    What’s also funny, Jake, is that statement stands true. Case and point, you’ve never been there. “Way worse than you can imagine”? GTFO. Visit the city first, then you can say what you will. A fair warning though, you probably shouldn’t leave the suburbs. You sound scared enough as it is. Sad thing is you sound scared over the internet.

  • I loved the commercial. I particularly liked the part where he said all the cities Detroit is NOT. I think that is something that people need to remember. Detroit is a unique city with unique problems that are going to need unique solutions to address them. Taking a cookie-cutter fix from another city is going to get it done. I think the best minds in Michigan understand that.

  • Kev

    “A fair warning though, you probably shouldn’t leave the suburbs. You sound scared enough as it is. Sad thing is you sound scared over the internet.” -TT

    Arent you a big boy. Guy says hes not impressed by Detroit and then you go and try to attack him. Classy

  • It was an awesome commercial, for Detroit.

    But isn’t it actually supposed to be a Chrysler commercial?
    And what are they hawking, a reskinned Sebring fleet car.
    Its the wrong commercial at the wrong time for the wrong car company.
    If this is their one shot, they blew it, I hope they can hang in there until the Fiat 500 shows up.

  • I liked the commercial (my personal favorite was the mini-Vader using the force) but overall I was surprised by the overwhelming amount of car commercials. It seemed really excessive… maybe no other industries were able to afford spots?

    What message was the auto industry trying to bring home last night? From talking cars to cars telling you how awesome your date went and everything in between, seems like they’re trying their best to convince us how much we need to appreciate the autos in our life.

    Maybe transit is catching on more than we realize…

  • I loved the pride and strength shown in this commercial.. Made me want to visit Detroit, and soon.

  • Matt Jacob

    “It was an awesome commercial, for Detroit.
    But isn’t it actually supposed to be a Chrysler commercial?”

    I’d suggest that it actually promotes Chrysler in two ways. One is the conventional way that it promotes it’s newest car model and the brand name, which is what everyone expects and what all it’s competitors are doing. The second way is a less direct approach of promoting the company through attracting future talent to the city where Chrysler is based and does most of its R&D work. Without that talent, Chrysler and the other auto makers would have a very hard time competing with the rest of the world. Who knows, if you could make Detroit seem like an amazing place to go and live maybe they could even lure away some of the foreign talent to the US (then our bailout might be worth it).

  • Jake Mecklenborg

    >Case and point, you’ve never been there. “Way worse than you can imagine”? GTFO. Visit the city first, then you can say what you wil

    No dude I’ve been there over 10 times. I’ve done the usual stuff like attend the auto show and went to a game in the old stadium, but unlike most people I’ve walked (yes, on foot) and bicycled around the neighborhoods (or rather what’s left of them) and have hundreds of photographs to prove it. I recognized a lot of the B-roll in this commercial. If Detroit is not in the worst condition of any city in the United States, please tell us which one is.

    The central issue with Detroit is that at this point — this late in the game, after the city has more or less been decimated — that they’re STILL pushing the auto industry as their savior, when it’s that very thing that killed the city.

  • Girl

    I moved to Detroit six years ago fresh out of high school and love the city more than any other place I’ve traveled. If you’re young, broke, and creative this is the place to be.

  • Ryan L

    The only problem I see with Detroit, is that no one wants to move there. The potential for the city is greater than almost any other in America, because the built environment is there (with some obvious repairs required) and it has potential, as seen in the past. I don’t know if Jake is suggesting Detroit abandon the auto industry, but that is not the right direction. I do agree that Detroit cannot cling on to the auto industry as a “savior” though. I hope that Detroit can overcome the problems it has by attracting new industry that is both exciting and attractive like the auto industry was decades ago.

    This whole conversation does get me thinking about reading “Model D” and “metromode”, the Soapbox Medias of Detroit. I am interested in the potential renaissance of Detroit, as Over-the-Rhine seems to be going through now.

  • Stowbilly

    As an American engineer who works in the auto industry, the Chrysler commercial not only gave me goose bumps, but brought tears to my eyes. It was not only speaking of Detroit, but Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Cincy, and all the other “rustbelt” cities with all of thier flaws and complexities and charms. It’s time we started rooting for the underdogs again.

  • Ron Tunning

    Jake, Newark offers Detroit serious competition.

    As for the commercial I found it interesting that Chrysler was trying to sell Detroit rather than its cars. Of course, if I had a choice, I’d choose Detroit over Chrysler anytime as any easier sell.

    I should admit that I’m leery of any company trying to appeal to me through so-called patriotism than with the quality of its products.

  • J

    Jake, deadly rioting in 1967 along with the collapsing auto industry has put Detroit in its current state.

  • Bob O

    Living in the Toledo area for most of my adult life, I did a lot of work in and around Detroit in all the auto companies. However, when it came time to move, I opted to take my chances in Cincinnati rather than Detroit. Cincy is on a slow and perhaps over-conservative rise, but at least it’s more diversified and moving faster than Detroit. I wish the best for Detroit. It has lots of nostalgia and pride. The key for them is attracting diverse job sectors to fill the void that automotive will unlikely rise to refill.

    Frankly, while nostalgic for Detroit, the commercial does little for Chrysler. Perhaps a cameo with the Motor City madman, Ted Nugent, would have been more appropriate to show grit and determination.

  • Zachary Schunn

    Unlike most commenters here, from a marketing standpoint, I think this commercial is genius.

    One great thing about Midwestern cities is the pride people feel for them. Sure, we make fun of our cities, but if you haven’t lived here then you have no right to criticize it (in most people’s mindsets). Same is true of Detroit, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Pittsburgh…

    Someone said something about rooting for the underdog. Chrysler is a major part of Detroit, and both are underdogs. Chrysler is 63% worker-owned… these same blue collar workers who sweat and toil all day over the cars are the people who own the company. How can you not feel for them, and root for them?

    I can’t say I was swayed by the ad, because I have no interest in a car. But, watch as sales boost because of this ad…