Since I returned to my hometown Detroit area a few years ago, I’ve fallen in love with the Chrysler 200, first introduced to me by my brother Bill, who retired from Chrysler Engineering, the second generation to work there after my Dad. So it made me especially proud that Chrysler brightened the Super Bowl each year with a spectacular ad that saluted my hometown and featured super stars Eminem, Clint Eastwood and Bob Dylan.
This year’s Super Bowl reflected the company’s transition into a global firm, FCA – and the ads for Fiat, Chrysler and Dodge took on an international theme, instead of the Detroit pride emphasis of the past.
Still, the quality and audience appeal was clearly still there. In particular, the 60 second Fiat video ad drew overwhelming crowd approval and laughter as it followed the journey of a Viagra-like blue pill accidentally thrown out of a bedroom window on its flight throughout an Italian landscape. When it finally lands in the gas tank of a Fiat 500, the red car is transformed into the new 500X crossover. In an NBC analysis, it was rated one of the top ads because the audience loved the sexy inuendos portrayed in such a funny and classy way.
A second 60 second ad, “Wisdom” was another short video that starred 11 centenarians thoughtfully giving advice for living life to the fullest before sinister laughter and burning rubber in a 2015 Dodge Challenger.
The finale for Fiat Chrysler was a scenic, 90-second spot for the Jeep Renegade – and, according to the Detroit News, the automaker used this ad to make Jeep a significant international brand by taking viewers on a world-wide journey through lyrics of “This Land Is Your Land”sung by Marc Scibilia — spanning the globe to locations across the U.S., Italy, Brazil, China, Spain, United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, Thailand and United Arab Emirates. Data provided by the music discovery app Shazam showed that the Nashville singer-songwriter’s version of Woody Guthrie’s classic anthem was the top searched musical moment of the game, outside of the half-time show.
According to a statement from Fiat Chrysler Chief Marketin g Officer Olivier Francios, “FCA US always strives to do something different, something unexpected yet with a purpose, for the largest television audience of the year and this year’s Super Bowl videos are no exception.” While I had been hoping for another spectacular salute to my hometown, I also like to think that Detroit after the bankruptcy will take on the new cosmopolitan and international tone set by FCA – my hometown, for sure, deserves to laugh and celebrate its very real global impact.
CBS Sunday Morning recently aired a feature on this year’s Detroit Auto Show, highlighting the new push for quality and teamwork. It was so exciting to watch how executives and union workers alike reported that “lessons had been learned.” The result? The new head of Chrysler, Sergio Mechionne, the CEO of Fiat, told CBS, “Product is key. Everything else is nonsense.” Hey, better late than never to hear that the Big Three is finally listening to what customers want.
UAW’s President Bob King added, “I hope people look at the auto industry as a model of what should be happening across America. Here’s government and management, business, labor and community all working together and look at the results; everybody is further ahead.” I also never thought I’d hear such a positive report from America’s autoworkers.
I grew up in Detroit, a child of the UAW and proud of it in my youth! My father worked for Chrysler for more than 30 years and my mother was at GM almost as long. Yet by the 80s, I was in public relations in New York, representing industry consultants Oliver Wight Companies http://www.oliverwight.com/ and publicizing their books about the rise of quality control on production lines and why Japanese automakers understood it and Detroit’s corporate arrogance was in the way.
I’m still sad that it took bankruptcy to get Detroit’s Big Three back on track, especially since their troubles so heavily devastated my hometown. But I hope you’ll take a moment to look over the CBS story at http://bit.ly/zSseg6 and hear the resounding agreement from managers and employees: Detroit’s auto industry has made a dramatic U-turn and is coming back. It’s a reaffirmation of the triumph of quality and teamwork.