Clint Eastwood Super Bowl Commercial is a Big Fat Lie

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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.

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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


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  1. BlueTacomMan says:

    Maybe you watched a different ad?
    “People are out of work and they’re hurting. And they’re all wondering what they’re going to do to make a comeback. And we’re all scared, because this isn’t a game.”

    “I’ve seen a lot of tough eras, a lot of downturns in my life. And, times when we didn’t understand each other. It seems like we’ve lost our heart at times. When the fog of division, discord, and blame made it hard to see what lies ahead.
    But after those trials, we all rallied around what was right, and acted as one. Because that’s what we do. We find a way through tough times, and if we can’t find a way, then we’ll make one.

    All that matters now is what’s ahead. How do we come from behind? How do we come together? And, how do we win?

    This country can’t be knocked out with one punch. We get right back up again and when we do the world is going to hear the roar of our engines.”

    Maybe you should ask the people of Detroit? My friends in Detroit thought it was a great ad. Come off you Colorado Rocky Mountain High! Talk to someone there in the Motor City.

  2. texmln says:

    Somebody still lives in Detroit?

  3. Jason (Admin) says:

    BlueTacomaMan – No offense to the people of Detroit is intended, but I stand by my assessment that this ad is pandering. In this instance, I take “Detroit” to mean Chrysler, Ford, and GM (it’s a car commercial, after all), and only one of those three companies is deserving of public recognition.

    A Chrysler advertisement encouraging America to fight back like “Detroit” did (which I interpreted as Chrysler talking about itself in the third person) is patently false. Chrysler didn’t fight back – Chrysler was bailed out.

    Thanks for commenting, btw. 🙂

    Texmln – LOL – lots of people.

  4. rich says:

    The theme here is greed. Most of our multi-national companies sold out years ago to outsourcing everything they could overseas. Hence, it is finally catching up. Then you have the financing fiasco that let everyone borrow regardless of their intent to pay back. Chrysler was part of the problem and we bailed them out. But in the same token we can ill afford to bail out any company. Look around, states are literally going broke and the fed doesnt have the resources to help. Chrysler is nothing but a distribution warehouse and it’ll take a long time for this country to get back on its feet. The ad is propaganda with the intent to make you feel better…what a joke!

  5. Mickey says:

    BlueTacomman cool your jets. I guess you don’t remember we bailed out Chrysler twice! Lost money both times. We baile out GM lost millions. What did these big 3 corporates do? Outsource the jobs to Mexico and Canada. What gets me is Clint is known for his Chevy truck collection not what was shown on the ad for Dodge/Chrysler. The same happen to me back in 82 when I worked for Kaiser Aluminum which employed 2,000 people. Kaiser built a plant in Africa and guess what? Our great union wanted to strike so Kaiser shut down the plant. Not to mention they were 3 other plasnts in the New Orleans area shutting down putting well over 3,000 people out of a work. The govt didn’t bail out Kaiser. They moved for cheaper labor to make their product cheaper so they can profit more. That’s the same as the Big 3 did and moved out of Detroit. Detroit needs to move on without the big 3 and don’t rely on them. I was married with 2 kids and received a whopping 2 weeks worth of unemployment benefits. That forces you to move on even if you have to move away from where you grew up at.

  6. Danny says:

    Clint Eastwood stated he didnt approve of the auto bailouts and then he does this commercial a few months later.
    Also, wasnt the city of detroit in serious decline long before the need of the bailout. wasnt the decline of detroit partly a direct result of the auto companies outsourcing jobs to other countries? and furthermore, how many of the actual affluently paid auto workers actually lived in detroit or shopped in the inner city areas of detroit. Can we really blame foreign competition for all of detroit’s misery? before we blame someone else for our miseries, we must look within ourselves and admit that we all created the problem. companies like toyota and honda who are creating jobs in the USA are not the problem. they are investing in out country and our people, and before anyone says that these companies are foreign owned, you must also consider that 2 of the big 3 are public traded and could easily be held by foreign entities. the third of the big 3 is held by a holding company overseas. embrace those who are willing to invest in you, divest from those that gave your job to someone else.

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