The Super Bowl last night proved to be yet another epic battle between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots with the Giants coming away with their second straight Super Bowl victory against the Pats.
Beyond the game, though, the Super Bowl is also closely watched for the advertisements, which cost an average of $3.5 million for a 30-second spot, and if done right often generate positive publicity far beyond the initial cost of the ad.
One ad in particular that caught my eye was a two-minute Chrysler ad which was narrated by actor Clint Eastwood. Eastwood, as you may recall, was the mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California and though he was a registered Republican, he tended to lean more Libertarian and was openly critical of some Republican policies.
That may explain why he agreed to narrate the Chrysler ad, labeled “Halftime in America,” which wasn’t about selling cars but about the tough times our country and how Detroit came back from the brink.
“It’s halftime. Both teams are in their locker rooms discussing what they can do to win this game in the second half. It’s halftime in America, too! People are out of work and they’re hurting. And they’re all wondering what they’re going to do to make a comeback.”
And that’s what Obama needs — a comeback.
As the ad ran, Twitter lit up with speculation as to whether or not this was a veiled attempt at crediting Obama with saving the auto industry, and was in effect an endorsement of Obama.
It did attract the attention of top Obama campaign adviser, David Axelrod who tweeted that it was a “powerful spot.”
While Chrysler didn’t mention Obama by name, they should be grateful to the President for engineering a bailout that sent the company into the hands of Italian automaker Fiat, which saved the company but cost taxpayers $1.3 billion.
But that was cheap compared to the $15 billion it has cost taxpayers to bail out GM.
For Chrysler this is simply payback to Obama for saving the company, albeit at a price that wasn’t mentioned in the ad. For Obama, he gets an unofficial campaign ad during the most watched sporting event of the year in the U.S. at a time when he is expected to have a particularly difficult re-election campaign.
The Obama campaign has denied any involvement in the ad, but it’s obvious that the executives at Chrysler wanted America to know that they are grateful enough to spend $14 million to say so.
UPDATE: Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne defended the ad by saying in a Detroit radio interview that it had “zero political content” and that the company was “as apolitical as you can make us.” In addition Clint Eastwood was quoted by The Wrap as having told O’Reilly Factor producer Ron Mitchell That he wasn’t Politically affiliated with Obama and that “It was meant to be a message … just about job growth and the spirit of America. I think all politicians will agree with it.”