Was Chrysler's Super Bowl Commercial a Nod to Obama? (Analysis)

The Super Bowl is televised advertising’s equivalent of the Cannes Film Festival, so White House political strategists must have been smiling when what’s generally being hailed as this year’s best spot -- the Chrysler "Halftime in America" commercial -- subtly echoed the themes of President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign.

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Just to ice the cake, the gritty two-minute spot featured actor/director Clint Eastwood, whose politics usually put him on the Republican side of the aisle. In the spot, Eastwood’s voice narrates an account of Detroit’s comeback and, then, when his unmistakably craggy face appears on screen, talks of how America has arrived at half-time in its struggle back from the financial precipice with good things to follow in the coming second half.

Hearing Eastwood make that point naturally invoked memories of his star turn as an irascible, but good-hearted retired auto worker in “Gran Torino.” It’s a message, moreover, that only can encourage the incumbent, who recently spoke in the Motor City and talked about deserving a second term—a theme he hit again in an address Sunday.

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The spot comes as Republican presidential hopefuls are struggling to make a case that the recent decline in unemployment and surge in the stock markets are not products of the President’s economic policies. That’s a hard case to make in Detroit, where the Obama Administration’s bailout saved both Chrysler and General Motors.

The president’s campaign also must have appreciated GE’s spots, which portrayed enthusiastic American workers back on domestic assembly lines actually turning out industrial products, while speaking glowingly of the future.

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Chrysler spokesmen called their spot an “inspirational” message focused on second chances. David Kelleher, a dealer in Glen Mills, PA, and chairman of Chrysler's National Dealer Council, told the Detroit Free Press that the automaker’s spot carried a message for downcast Americans who should look at where Chrysler was and where it is now—but only at halfway point with more to go.

The Obama reelection campaign couldn’t buy a better endorsement.

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