Chrysler started 2011 with its "Born of Fire" spot on the Super Bowl, using a defiant Eminem to insist that the carmaker and its flagship city were still in the game. Now, at year's end, the message in Chrysler's new commercial, "See It Through," is much the same, but offered up this week as a kind of Thanksgiving grace for the gains of the year and hope for an industry and city that still have a long recovery ahead.
Gone is the in-your-face rapper, and there is none of the ruin-porn imagery usually associated with Detroit. Instead, Chrysler narrates the commercial with the motivational words of Michigan poet laureate Edgar Albert Guest, a Detroit immigrant who started out as a copy boy at the Detroit Free Press in the 1890s and wrote "See It Through" in 1917 to address the hardships of World War I. The carmaker has been positioning the Chrysler 300 as "earned luxury," and Guest's aspirational piece sets up nicely framed stills and filmed shots of the diverse citizens of Detroit and its affluent suburbs, where those cars presumably sit next to the manicured lawns of those who have arrived. The soundtrack of Muddy Waters singing "Mannish Boy" provides a hard-working blues backdrop, but one that is more encouraging than downbeat.
The new spot, from Wieden + Kennedy, will break during the Thanksgiving Day football game when the Detroit Lions take on the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers. (Lions defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh, standing in front of his Chrysler 300, is one of the people featured in the commercial.) It's a fitting context in which to run a message about Detroit's determination to beat the odds, as the Packers are currently a perfect 10-0.
UPDATE: In what appears to be a bizarre coincidence, Boat magazine also just released a new video about Detroit using the same Guest poem as the voiceover. "There's no way on God's earth they could have learned about us," the Boat editors say of the W+K creatives. "It's kinda cool though, as two films launched on the same day, they do make quite an interesting side-by-side." See Boat's video below, following the credits.
Client: Chrysler Group
Campaign: "See it Through"
Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.
Creative Directors: Aaron Allen, Joe Staples, Michael Tabtabai
Copywriter: Derek Szynal
Art Director: Devin Gillespie
Producer: Bob Wendt
Production Company: The Director's Bureau
Director: Melodie McDaniel