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Imported From Detroit: Rebranding the Rust Belt

Imported From Detroit was easily one of the best Super Bowl ads on Sunday night.  I would have gone out on a limb and said it was THE BEST ad if it had trimmed the Eminem part at the end a bit.  The ad for Chrysler (ironically a foreign-controlled company now) is a major break from mainstream car marketing in that it used down-and-out unglamorous Detroit as the basic sales pitch for the car – no mountains, no palm trees, no exotic architecture, no beautiful women – just Detroit as it is dark and grim and very compelling visually.  The ad was beautifully shot and scored with great writing for the voice-over.  It was powerful because it turned Detroit’s Rust Belt ills into a mysterious force of pride and triumph.
The ad is beautiful to look at, filled with great videography covering iconic images of Detroit both good and bad.  It did not shy away from showing snow, smokestacks or rotting buildings.  In doing so it tuned these negatives into compelling backdrops for the car being pitched.  I thought the ad was a masterful use of the current gloom that has covered the country since the dawn of the Great Recession and the reworking of our economy.  This ad says take pride in your ability to overcome.  Take pride in your toughness.  Take pride in the fact that you work hard and deserve to be recognized.  Sure it is an ad and these things – rotting buildings and such  – are pretty crummy but this was a call to the American sense that anything can be overcome and it is Detroit that is leading the way.  Maybe it is a Madison Avenue myth, but is this any worse than the Sun Belt myth we have been served over the last few decades?

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