Super Bowl commercials have become a pastime in America — to some, they’re as entertaining as the year’s big game. Sunday night’s annual affair was no different, but one ad stood above the rest, imparting a message of national unity and hope that could have come straight from President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign.
Only, the ad was placed by Chrysler, and meant to sell cars, not a candidate.
“Powerful spot,” David Axelrod, one of President Obama’s top campaign advisers, immediately posted on Twitter. “Saving the America Auto Industry: Something Eminem and Clint Eastwood can agree on,” added White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer.
(Last year’s Super Bowl ad by Chrysler featured rap artist Eminem.)
Featuring the famously Republican tough-guy director, this year’s Chrysler ad comes off like a lavishly produced political enticement, with Eastwood narrating an inspiring riff about America at halftime, wondering how to come together and overcome the daunting challenges at hand. It also plays like a direct attack on former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R), who famously said he would have allowed Detroit to go bankrupt in the wake of the worst financial crisis in U.S. history. That move would have scuttled tens of thousands of jobs and essentially tanked the city, which is currently struggling enough, even without the automakers vanishing.
“The people in Detroit know a little something about this,” Eastwood explains, his face off camera. “They almost lost everything. But we all pulled together. Now Motor City is fighting again. I’ve seen a lot of tough eras, a lot of downturns in my life. Times when we didn’t understand each other. It seems that we’ve lost our heart at times. The fog of division, discord and blame made it hard to see what lies ahead.
“But after those trials, we all rallied around what was right and acted as one. Because that’s what we do. We find a way through tough times. If we can’t find a way then we’ll make one. All that matters now is what’s ahead. How do we come from behind? How do we come together? And how do we win?”
He concludes: “Detroit is showing us it can be done. And what’s true about them is true about all of us. This country can’t be knocked out with one punch. We get right back up again and when we do the world is going to hear the roar of our engines. Yeah, its halftime America and our second half is about to begin.”
In a stark contrast to what Romney said he would have done, President Obama did not let Detroit’s largest industry go bankrupt. The current administration extended a $12.5 billion line of credit to Chrysler in 2009 as it faced its demise, and the company underwent a government-supervised restructuring, selling an ownership stake to Italian automaker Fiat.
Chrysler, which employs more Detroit residents than any other automaker, has since repaid its bailout loan in full. Just last week, the company reported their first profits since 2005, based upon a 26 percent surge in sales over 2010. Fiat, which purchased its ownership stake in Chrysler from the U.S. Treasury, also turned a profit on their investment, up $211 million in the third quarter of 2011.
The positive auto sales numbers came at a good time for President Obama, who also welcomed on Friday the best unemployment report since he took office and the highest stock market close in 11 years. U.S. automakers said earlier in January that 2011’s auto sales were up 10 percent over 2010, and Detroit’s unemployment rate is down nearly 7 percent, from a 2009 high of 16.6 percent.
The Obama 2012 campaign told reporters they had nothing to do with the ad, which was estimated to cost over $14 million dollars just on airtime alone. It was not clear how much Eastwood was paid.
The Oscar-winning director said that he voted for Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) in 2008, and has since criticized President Obama for “not governing,” saying he isn’t a fan. Despite prior criticism, however, Eastwood recently commented that he hasn’t made up his mind about 2012 yet.
This video is an ad spot by U.S. automaker Chrysler, aired Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012.