Chrysler’s Super Bowl LIE

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If you watched the commercial breaks during yesterday’s Super Bowl – you know, the one where the Steelers dug themselves a huge hole before eventually losing the game – you might have seen a very well-done Chrysler commercial staring the new Chrysler 200 and hip-hop mogul Eminem.

While this commercial is definitely compelling, it’s based on a tremendous lie: While the new Chrysler 200 is built in Detroit, it’s no more “American” than any vehicle built on U.S. soil by Honda, Toyota, or Hyundai. Why, you ask?

Because Chrysler is owned by FIAT, and Fiat is based in Italy. See the ad below:

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The obvious message in this ad is that buying a Chrysler is good for the city of Detroit, and I for one have great sympathy for the people in Detroit. That city has been through 40 years of decline brought on by incompetent auto execs and irresponsible union leadership, and they have deserved better.

The sub-text of this commercial, however, is that buying a Chrysler is better than buying an import. From the ad:

Narration: “…when it comes to luxury, it’s as much about where it’s from as who it’s for, now we’re from America, but this isn’t New York City…this is the motor city, this is what we do.”

The narration above is followed by the text Imported From Detroit, which seems to indicate (to me at least) that buying a Chrysler 200 is like buying a great import, except it comes from Detroit. That’s all fine and good, but it’s not the whole story. Chrysler is not truly an American company – or at least it won’t be very, very soon. From the New York Times:

Sergio Marchionne, the chief executive of both Chrysler and Fiat, last week said he hoped to repay the loans and take a 51 percent stake in Chrysler sometime in 2011, ahead of a public stock offering in the second half of the year.

Sergio Marchionne is a great auto exec and exactly what Chrysler needs if it’s going to survive and prosper, but the Marchionne’s don’t hail from Detroit, folks.

Chrysler’s ad is one big, fat, stinking lie, because it leads you to believe that buying a Chrysler vehicle is somehow “good for America,” but as any Toyota owner will tell you, buying a car from a foreign automaker is bad – evil even – according to thousands of xenophobe “Buy ‘Merican” hillbillies who attack their fellow citizens for buying a made-in-America vehicle with a  foreign nameplate.

If the “Buy ‘Merican” crowd is to be believed, purchasing a made-in-Texas Toyota Tundra isn’t helping American industry or preserving American jobs. By that logic, buying a new Chrysler 200 isn’t good for America either.

So, like I said, Chrysler’s greatest ad in the last decade was a big lie.

Comments? Any “Buy ‘Merican” folks care to explain how buying a Chrysler 200 is better than buying a Tundra?

Filed Under: Auto News


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  1. John says:

    I certainly catch the technical side of the point, that Chrysler is NOT American. But, I also think it was done very well to push the Detroit angle. I am not pro union and pulling for any of the Big 3 for that matter, so, no back story here. I do think it is better to have a car/truck built here in the USA, regardless of the corporate home, as it does support jobs and suppliers in our home base. That is what Toyota figured out and certainly they have invested big bucks in the USA plants to drive that point home, of “Built in the USA”. Just think of how many Nissans, Fords, and GM models are built over the border. It makes a lot more sense to me to keep
    it here in the USA before we lose all of the mfg jobs to the “corporate boys” who could actually care less about social economic responsibilities and care more about P&L results. I will take the “technical lie” as long as they build in Detroit or any other state for that matter. Just my .02

  2. Jason (Admin) says:

    John – I’m actually in 100% agreement. I’m fully behind any vehicle that’s built in the USA, especially when the majority of the parts are sourced here too.

    However, I was struck by the hypocrisy…Chrysler wants America to “buy American,” and that’s really a half truth.

    Thanks for commenting!

  3. TXTee says:

    I hated the commercial overall because it had Eminem in it. I bet his sorry azz doesn’t even drive a Chrysler…..

    Did anybody see the Jack in the Box commercial? I think Jack drives a rigged up Tundra. At least that’s what my mom said. I missed it so will try a Google search.

  4. TXTee says:

    Went and checked it out…sorry it’s a Dodge.

  5. John says:

    Thanks Jason for the comment. I do not care if it is Big 3 or even Toyota (which I own), but, I prefer it is built here. Younger folks may not understand the damage thst is going on here. I survived, but, I worry about what will happen, if we let or allow all mfg to be outside of the USA. Scary to think about it… (jbtoy as most know me)

  6. Jon says:

    Why is it that almost everything we buy in America is made in foreign countries:toys,clothing,appliances,etc..Yet, when it comes to automobiles, you get the “Buy American” for the betterment of our country. By the way I’ve owned two Nissans,both were built right here in America by American men and women. Nissan has two plants in the U.S. which employs 10’s of thousands of Americans, that’s not including suppliers,aftermarket and dealerships. Who do these people think they’re foooling,it’s all about your money in their pockets,no?

  7. mk says:

    I can honestly say that after over 20 years of buying strictly GM and finally jumping ships to Toyota for the first time in 2007 when the tundra came out, I buy what I like, but prefer to buy an American made in one of the 50 states vehicle even if Toyota or Nissan or Hyundai are technically overseas companies. 100% of my GM silverados were built in Oshawa Ontario Canada or Mexico and that I am not proud of either. Employing American workers is good for us right now seeing as how almost all jobs are overseas which pisses me off. Maybe it is me, but I think Toyota and Nissan and Kia and Hyundai have more American plants building their vehicles than Dodge, GM, and Ford. I did like the Hyundai commercial for their nice looking 40mpg hybrid (Elantra I think???) and think that might be worth looking into minus the hybrid part. The looks of the Hyundais’ are very sharp and I think Hyundai and Kia are making huge improvements in quality since the 90’s enough for me to consider buying one next.

  8. mk says:

    One more thing, off topic, but I liked the commercial with the Sharon Osbourne stating what is 6G and Ozzy states what is a Bieber with a guy in the background that looks like a girl. Very funny if you ask me. Most of the superbowl commercials I think sucked and the car commercials of which there were tons more this year, also mostly sucked all of them.

  9. Eric says:

    No, it’s not all about money in their pockets. The fact that everything else we buy is manufactured somewhere else is a tragedy. Sure, the products are less expensive, but only because they fired American workers to hire foreigners below poverty wages.

    Every manufacturing plant closed drives down wages. The effect is not limited to those who lost their jobs. It drives down wages for you and me, because there are now more people competing for the remaining jobs.

  10. Jason (Admin) says:

    TXTee – I was thinking that if they hadn’t chosen Eminem they would have chosen Kid Rock…and that wouldn’t have been better, LOL.

    John – I think that the world is interconnected, and I genuinely believe that it’s OK to buy things made in foreign countries provided the people in those countries buy things from us. The problem is, we’re buying more and selling less…but that seems to be shifting. The dollar is low, and that’s making it cost-effective to build things here again. I’m hopeful that the trade deficits of the last 50 or so years were an aberration…so basically I’m in agreement! 🙂

    Jon – Agreed.

    mk – Toyota builds quite a few vehicles in the USA, but they’re not quite as prolific as Ford or GM. Nissan, Hyundai, and Honda are all in the process of moving more production to the USA, and I expect that Toyota’s Mississippi plant will start building the new Prius coupe in the near future. The Japanese automakers have a hard time moving all the production because they’ve got plants and unions in Japan to deal with.

    I agree that most of the car commercials sucked…except the VW darth vader ad and the “Lassie Silverado” ad – not bad.

    Eric – As I mentioned in my response to John, I’m hopeful that our trade deficits are a temporary condition brought on by our tremendous prosperity. As people in foreign lands start earning more money, the costs of U.S. manufacturing aren’t nearly as high.

  11. John says:

    For the record, I am not advocating we only sell and not buy from other countries, but, right now we do have a major imbalance. Eventually, the “burden rate” as we call it for
    regions will begin to level the playing field, but, it will take many years. I recently returned from Mexico and
    to share the example, that one area I was in, half the textile plants are shutdown. Where did they go…China. Imagine a low cost country losing business to a lower cost country. Just think of Chinamart to get an idea on how fast things can change. Hopefully, it does turn around at some point, but, I wonder if we can wait that long.

  12. Jason (Admin) says:

    John – That’s also a good point – the “race to the bottom” is a definite risk.

    Part of the problem in my mind is that energy costs are incredibly low. Exactly how is it cost effective to ship parts 10k miles if oil prices are 2 or 3 times higher? I’m not advocating $15 a gallon gas, but I think we’re in a special time in the world’s history. Energy costs are incredibly low, and as a result we can afford to buy things that were shipped halfway around the globe.

    I too wonder if it will turn around in time, but I’m comforted by the fact that history shows this type of thing is cyclical.

    Anyways, great comments. Thank you.

  13. james says:

    Actually, Jason, you’re the liar. As of the writing of this article, Chrysler IS American, mostly owned by the VEBA trust. (55%, I believe). And FIAT may or may not take majority ownership in Chrysler, but right now, it owns 25%. So you look like a sh** disturber to me instead of a responsible journalist(?) The point of the ad, which you seem to have missed completely, was that American Workers and Companies can, and will be, world class players in the auto industry. Btw, what about the current rumour of FIAT/Chrysler making its head office in N/A; that would make FIAT American. So stop with the sensationalist B.S. until you have something worthwhile to comment on.

  14. Jason (Admin) says:

    James – Great point man – great point. Even though Sergio Marchionne (head of Fiat) is in charge of Chrysler, and even though he’s BEEN in charge for the better part of a year, and even though he’s declared his intent to take complete control, you are *technically* correct. Chrysler is still only partially foreign.

    I just hope that you can forgive me…LOL

    As for your idea that Fiat will be headquartered in America, you might want to re-read that particular bit of news. Sergio is telling the Italians the same thing.

  15. james says:

    Facts are facts, Jason. The world could explode tomorrow, or end in 2012, so we’re told. That doesn’t make it true, it makes it sensationalist story telling, not responsible journalism. For all I know, you could work for Ford. What I DO know is that the 200 is designed, manufactured and sold in the United States, and that the money from those sales goes to Chrysler Group LLC, NOT Fiat Spa. So, when all your ‘predictions’ come true, then re-issue the story. As of the time of your article, what you are presenting is conjecture specifically designed to generate (negative) commentary. Well, as they say, ANY attention is better than none. Enjoy your 15 minutes, Bud.

  16. Jason (Admin) says:

    james – I wish that this little post got me 15 minutes of fame. If it had, I’d go on cable talk shows and blast Chrysler all day long for leveraging American ignorance in this ad.

    In case you missed it, my last comment was dripping with sarcasm. Arguing that Chrysler isn’t owned by Fiat based on some share holder technicality is idiotic, especially when Fiat has full control over design, cash flow, etc. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.

    Besides, the greater point here is that buying a Chrysler is no different than buying Tundra or a Camry – all three are built in the USA, and all three are built by a foreign company.

  17. Mickey says:

    James who had Chrysler before Fiat? Wasn’t it owned by the Germans? Get off your horse guy. I don’t back a company that has been bailed out twice now with my tax dollars.

  18. Craig says:

    The Chrysler 200 is made up of 81% U.S. parts and is also assembled in Michigan…Sounds pretty American to me.

  19. Jason (Admin) says:

    Craig – What you say is true. My gripe (which is both cynical and a bit sarcastic) is that, because people say the Tundra is un-American, all Chrysler vehicles must be too. The Tundra is 90% American-made and assembled in Texas, yet it’s “foreign” because Toyota is headquarted in Japan.

    Chrysler is headquarted in Italy now…so they’re foreign, right?

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