Super Bowl

Chrysler Expected to Return to the Super Bowl

Recent Big-Game Ads Have Broken Conventions

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Chrysler, which has stood out among advertisers in the past two Super Bowls with attention-grabbing commercials talking about economic revival in America and Detroit, will return to the game in 2013, according to people familiar with the situation.

Clint Eastwood in Chrysler's 'Halftime in America' Super Bowl spot
Clint Eastwood in Chrysler's 'Halftime in America' Super Bowl spot

The automaker's appearance in the game is sure to draw scrutiny. Chrysler has in the past two years run ads about two minutes long, about four times the length of typical commercials in the Super Bowl or elsewhere. The special commercials have in some cases forced the TV networks broadcasting the game to rearrange the Super Bowl ad lineup at the last minute and required other sponsors' flexibility about where their ads appear during the game.

But in some ways the ads have harked to tradition more than they broke it. By creating outsize commercials that feature elements rarely seen or heard in TV ads -- patriotic narration, music from Eminem, A-list actor and director Clint Eastwood -- Chrysler has seemed to be attempting to return to the days when Super Bowl ads relied less on cheap humor and more on dynamic visuals and inspiring ideas.

Chrysler declined to confirm or discuss any activity in next month's Super Bowl.

In 2011, Chrysler ran a two-minute commercial touting a revival by U.S. automakers, which had slumped along with the economy. The ad, crafted by independent Wieden & Kennedy, displayed the chest-beating slogan "Imported From Detroit" as music from Eminem swelled in the background. Last year, the company raised eyebrows even more with an ad just before the end of halftime in which Mr. Eastwood exhorted Americans to rise up against conditions that may be weighing them down. Chrysler sparked controversy in the process as some viewers interpreted the commercial as an endorsement of President Barack Obama's economic policies.

Few Super Bowl ads attempt to capture or summarize a national attitude. The only other one that comes immediately to mind is Apple's famous "1984" commercial, which urged consumers to rise up against staid computer makers threatening to keep them subjugated and docile.

Chrysler's success with a longer-than-normal commercial has prompted others to seek similar amounts of time from TV networks during such events as the Grammys or even during regular programming.

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