Exported to Politics: Eastwood-Chrysler Super Bowl Stirs the Pot

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The controversy surrounding the "Imported from Detroit" ad is not dying down yet.

"Imported from Detroit" has become the most famous sequel in the history of Super Bowl ads. And it also aroused controversy in political circles. The first part was broadcast during the 2011 Super Bowl and starred rapper Eminem, giving a moral uplift to Detroit citizens as well as excellent publicity for the Chrysler 200. The "Imported from Detroit" slogan at the end of the ad was a poignant reminder, tongue-in-cheek, that Detroit and the US automotive industry in general, are no more an American enterprise.

They're now a Detroit enterprise. This year the ad's creators went a step further. With Chrysler's approval, they produced a sequel that was more political. There were a lot of atmosphere shots and nearly no cars took part in its two minute run time. Chrysler's brands logos were shown only toward the end just before the "Imported from Detroit" faded in.

The narration by Clint Eastwood, the ultimate American hero, was the focal point. The local and national patriotism were uttered in abundance and insinuations for the coming political confrontation were clear. Many analysts and viewers interpreted the clip as a political masterstroke. And you cannot blame the critics for that. Karl Rove, former President George W. Bush's top adviser, has accused the ad as being politically motivated. "It is a sign of what happens when you have Chicago-style politics, and the president of the United States and his political minions are, in essence, using our tax dollars to buy corporate advertising," he told Fox News.

"Powerful spot. Did Clint shoot that, or just narrate it?" commented David Axelrod, a former Obama aid who is currently running the president's reelection campaign. Noises from the White House also confirmed the notion that the ad had political tones attached and the implications should be felt in the months to come. Rove and other Republicans were criticized for ignoring President Bush's contribution to the auto industry bailout. But who remembers that now? Obama became the industry's savior while Bush's contribution was overlooked and forgotten. Not by everybody, however.

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Last weekend, NADA, the National Automobile Dealers Association, had their annual gathering in Las Vegas and President Bush was invited to speak. He wasn't oblivious to his contribution to the auto industry's bailout which he initiated. He might even have been proud of the results of his actions. "I'd do it again," he promised the audience, referring to the first $700 billion he approved for saving the financial and banking sectors from meltdown. "I didn't want there to be 21 percent unemployment. If you make a bad decision, you ought to pay. Sometimes, circumstances get in the way of philosophy."

He will certainly be congratulated by the main beneficiary of Chrysler's bailout and the bankruptcy process, the current Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne. Marchionne said in a short statement after the commercial aired: "We are as apolitical as you can make us... and I sincerely hope that it (the ad) doesn't get utilized as political fodder in a debate." Unfortunately for him and the Obama administration, during the week it was discovered that the people who produced the clip are close the Democratic Party and were involved in the 2008 presidential campaign. So maybe it was a political stunt after all.

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