Chrysler snapped up one of the few remaining slots in Super Bowl XLIV, where CBS’s going rate for 30 seconds was around $3 million, to air a 60-second ad for Dodge Charger.
The decision to return to the game after a five-year hiatus and on the heels of a government bailout and bankruptcy filing set off a debate. The buy made Chrysler the only U.S. automaker shelling out for the big game. Within hours of the news in January 2010, the company was getting skewered in the blogosphere by angry consumers who dubbed the high-profile buy a waste of taxpayer dollars. "Of all their cars, they're going to spend MILLIONS (of my tax payer money) to advertise the CHARGER?" wrote James Sonne on Autoblog. The debate raged on Advertising Age's website too: A reader called the buy a "slap in the face to every American taxpayer. ... This is Chrysler's way of saying 'Thanks for saving us, but now screw you, America. We're gonna use the money to pay for some Super Bowl ads.'"
Others rushed to Chrysler's defense. "They barely spent any ad money coming out of bankruptcy and lost significant market share," one commenter wrote. "How do we expect them to ever repay taxpayer money if they don't sell vehicles? And to sell vehicles, you must make people aware of your product offerings."
"If I were Dodge, I would be less concerned about the public reaction," Cameron McNaughton, president of McNaughton Automotive Perspectives, said then. "I think Americans want these companies to succeed, and there is an opportunity for Dodge to stand up and say to them 'This is the way forward.'”
The ad itself, in any event, seemed a success. As Ad Age’s ad reviewer wrote, the Super Bowl must be the most efficient place in the world to sell Chargers to men. The selling proposition is crystalline: "I carry your lip balm, I'm driving the car I want." And it spoke to “manly” men without mocking the rest.
Director: Mark Romanek. Production company: Anonymous Content. Director of photography: Sal Totino. Executive producer: Dave Morrison. Line producer: Emma Wilcockson.
Creative directors: Aaron Allen, Joe Staples. Copywriter: Joe Staples. Art director: Jimm Lasser. Producer: Jessica Staples. Executive creative directors: Mark Fitzloff, Susan Hoffman. Agency executive producer: Ben Grylewicz.
VFX: Public VFX. Flame artist: Christopher Noellert. Executive VFX producer: Kim Nagel. VFX producer: Christie Price. Sound design: Stimmung. Sound designer: Gus Koven. Editorial: SpotWelders. Editor: Michael Heldman. Executive post producer: David Glean. Producer: Lisa English.
AGENCY: Wieden & Kennedy
QUARTER AIRED: Q2