Clint Eastwood Super Bowl Commercial is a Big Fat Lie
By this time, we’ve all seen the Clint Eastwood “Halftime” ad from Chrysler. It’s well produced, classy, and – depending on your point of view – inspiring. The ad wants you to believe that, much like Detroit, America can bounce back from tough times stronger than before.
The trouble is, this whole notion of Detroit “bouncing back” is a lie. Detroit was saved from collapse by an Italian conglomerate, the American taxpayer, and good timing. Let me explain:
1. Chrysler owes it’s life to an Italian conglomerate. Chrysler’s tag line is “imported from Detroit,” but it might as well be Mario and Luigi Motors. Chrysler is owned and operated by Fiat, an Italian conglomerate that builds cars, has financial holdings, construction services, etc. Think of Fiat as Italy’s version of General Electric.
In other words, you’re not exactly “bouncing back” when one of the world’s largest companies decides to invest.
2. G.M. never would have survived without the American taxpayer. We all know that G.M. needed billions of dollars of federal aid to stay alive – some estimates exceed 100 billion, if you include TARP funds to GMAC in addition to all the money “invested” in G.M. on behalf of the American taxpayer. If I file bankruptcy, and I have to borrow money from Mom and Dad to feed my family, is that really considered “bouncing back?”
3. Ford was damn lucky to borrow money when they did. In 2003, Ford’s leadership saw the writing on the wall and decided to go all in. They leveraged every single asset in the company to secure a mountain of cash, which they used to support closing factories, laying off and buying out workers, etc. Because Ford had already started to rebuild their business, they were able to survive the industry collapse in 2008 without asking for a handout. While Ford’s leadership deserves immense credit for having the vision to rebuild the company starting in 2003, it’s disingenuous to call their success in rebuilding “bouncing back” in the same way that Chrysler and G.M. recovered.
4. NONE of the Detroit automakers have truly bounced back yet. GM, Ford, and Chyrsler laid off half their workforce between 1999 and 2011 – that’s hundreds of thousands of jobs that simply disappeared. While one could argue many of these jobs needed to disappear, it’s a lie that Detroit or her automakers have bounced back. Detroit still has high unemployment, a depressed economy, more abandoned property than you can shake a stick at, and a host of other problems. GM, Ford, and Chrysler still don’t provide as many jobs as they did less than 10 years ago.
When Chrysler pays for an advertisement that insinuates they’ve somehow learned how to “pull together” and “fight again,” they do us all a disservice. No one should get credit for charity or dumb luck, least of all Chrysler, one of the most poorly managed automakers in history. Don’t buy into this crap, America, you’re smarter than that.
Filed Under: Auto News