Chrysler Rebrands Detroit, Eminem Imported

DETROIT – It’s a shame it takes an Italian company and an old rap star to see the value in Detroit. But that’s what is mightily apparent with new Chrysler 200 advertisements, which feature Eminem and the tagline “Imported From Detroit.” The commercial has had 4.8 million view on YouTube in only a short time, and that’s a big achievement for Chrysler/Fiat and Oliver Francois, the company’s chief marketing officer.

Not being a fan of Eminem, I have respect for him and his work with the company to promote not only Chrysler, but American automobiles and Detroit (and Michigan) tourism.

The commercial is both a lesson in tourism marketing and general advertising, taking what was thought of as a second-rate product, confessing the faults and fears, and then moving past them by showing what is best about the product. What is so brilliant is its use of Detroit imagery and architecture, from buildings to sculptures to local teams to gospel choirs. Over generations, Chrysler often has to fall back on design, as it has had had few new models. Perhaps the last model with true design oomph was the 1997 revamp of the Dodge Caravan. So renaming the Sebring the 200, doing some good ads, and better styling, is an excellent way forward for the company. Apparently, they are worrying about quality as well, according to press reports.

Comments on YouTube about the commercial seem to be talking more about the politics of the bailout and the sorry state of Detroit political leadership. And some other funny one remarks that Chrysler’s ads are better than their cars. But some favorite comments:

  • I’m not from USA I’m from France but I hope one day I’ll visit America or maybe live there why not… It’s really a beautiful country with best artists (like Em) and best dreams in the world. I know that I don’t know all the sides of this country but I keep the hope for USA… Keep your head up America!
  • GO AMERICA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • I love Detroit, personally. The place is plenty amazing when you look past all of the crime and drama. I love it there, I visit periodicly during the year and I can’t stay away, Eminem was one of many with amazing talent, and there are still many there. Dancers, Rappers, Singers, ect. It’s pretty cool to experience their dance types and shit cause it actually differs from the bullshit they put out in the movies.

Chrysler is giving America a great dose of patriotism in all its ads, even its 2011 Jeep Cherokee and its Christmas corporate ad that features some of its great autos over the years, including the Grand Wagoneer and Plymouth Voyager. Gotta love anything from the Reagan era.

An aside: For Floridians, the loss of the Sebring brand is bittersweet, as the convertible Sebring is a sort of Florida State Automobile. Perhaps Chrysler might brand the convertible a “Sebring Edition” just for the Sunshine State fleet and consumer market? Yours truly still sort of fondly recalls the Plymouth Satellite Sebring that his grandparents drove back in the 1970s. Purchased at Self Motor Company of Farnham, Virginia, it was one of many fine automobiles sold by the Selfs, a husband-and-wife team who ran a car dealership that sold Chryslers and Plymouths on the Northern Neck’s Route 3.

But back to the issue of geography and marketing. Companies now are vigorously promoting the state that they are associated with. I even heard a credit card agent from Discover promote that they were answering from Discover in Delaware. I think I will keep the card, no matter the lousy APR…

Take that outsourcing.

Question for readers: What are the sights in the ad?


  • Garland Pollard

    J. Garland Pollard IV is editor/publisher of BrandlandUSA. Since 2006, the website has chronicled the history and business of America’s great brands.

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