Monday, February 07, 2011

About that Chrysler Super Bowl ad

You might have noticed that very long Chrysler ad that seemed to be an ad for Detroit and how tough it is. Only at the end do you see Eminem get out of the car and realize that it's really an ad for Chrysler. My first thought was - did US taxpayers just shell out the money for the longest ad in Super Bowl history to pay for a commercial to tell us how tough Detroit is? Is that really how Chrysler plans to come back? Yup.

J. P. Freire has the back story.
Chrysler turns to America to say that because Detroit has been "through hell and back" it has endured the "hottest fires which makes the hardest steel," and that the reason people don't know that is because newspaper reporters "don't know what [people in Detroit] are capable of."
Yeah, Detroit's problems are due to those biased reporters. And showing a few shots of the better parts of the city is proof that it's back and now made of the hardest steel. Sure.

How about these pictures of "Detroit in ruins." Is that the image of a city that has come back?

As Freire points out, there are a few things left out of the ad.
One: Chrysler didn't go through the hottest fires. Unless, of course, "hottest fires" means "skipping bankruptcy" and asking for a handout to protect union pensions, which it got. And when Fiat was able to take control of Chrysler, it was because of a heavily politicized deal facilitated by the president's auto task force. It even got $6.6 billion in exit financing by Uncle Sam. Most failing businesses have trouble finding buyers. Not Chrysler.

Two: Detroit may have been through a self-imposed over-taxed, over-regulated hell, but it certainly hasn't come back. Budget numbers still show Detroit's books in the red, despite Mayor Dave Bing's best efforts to rein in spending. And Pew reveals that Detroit residents spend more for their municipal legislature than any other major city in the U.S. Heck, even its library is facing a dire fiscal crisis.

Three: We know what Detroit is capable of because we saw it in the 1960s. We still see potential, too -- Michigan economist David Littman told The Examiner last year that there was plenty of reason to be optimistic:
"We're not even on the map," Littman notes. But the opportunity is there. "We have bargain basement prices on everything -- from water properties, which are a hallmark of growth, to infrastructure. And this is tied together with a large and progressive highway system. We also have the largest underground gas reserves in the nation."
Chrysler must have found the investment worthwhile, using the opportunity of the new Chrysler model to plug Detroit's tough "know-how." Fox was charging approximately $2.8 to $3 million per 30-second slot.

This ad doesn't reveal how tough and competent Detroit is. It shows how the federal government picks winners and losers. Guess which part the taxpayers play?
And Chrysler is now complaining about the interest rates that Chrysler is obligated to pay for its $15 billion bailout calling those rates "shyster rates." So the U.S. taxpayers who funded that bailout are now "shysters" in the Chrysler CEO's view. And he's hoping to get another government loan in order to get better rates for private financing. Yup, that shows that Detroit is back and now made of the hardest steel.

Maybe that will convince all those who look to buy their next car from Eminem.