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Clint’s 'Halftime': A hit with just a hint of Chrysler

DETROIT -- As the furor over the Chrysler Group “Halftime in America” commercial tapers off -- it is tapering off, isn’t it? -- three thoughts stick with me about the annual Super Bowl advertising fest.

The first: Chrysler certainly scored the biggest celebrity with Clint Eastwood. But it’s axiomatic that the more prestigious the celeb you land, the more you have to accommodate your star’s wishes. These often involve coming across like a major star rather than, you know, some sort of crass corporate mouthpiece.

So ponder for a moment what it took to sign Eastwood.

During the spot, Eastwood did not:

  • Drive a Chrysler vehicle
  • Sit in a Chrysler vehicle
  • Appear in the same frame as a Chrysler vehicle
  • Mention the word “Chrysler” (or any of the company’s brands or vehicles).

Second thought: This was the year that the trend of releasing commercials early on the Web hit the tipping point. Everything was out there before the game.

That’s fine, but the Web versions were often considerably longer -- and better -- than the TV spots. Long versions of the Honda Ferris Bueller commercial, the Acura Jerry Seinfeld spot, and the Chevrolet “Happy Grad” commercial were cute little minimovies. The humor had time to develop. There was a touch of whimsy.

By contrast, the short versions that aired during the game felt choppy and rushed.

Perhaps if you want to make a 30-second spot, you should just shoot a 30-second spot.

Third thought: This is hardly a new observation, but I wonder about the value of Super Bowl commercials. As painful as it may be to the egos of marketers and advertising folk, the Super Bowl audience is mainly interested in watching the game. It is also talking, eating and consuming adult beverages.

I asked a friend after the game whether she had seen the Chrysler spot. Sort of, she said, but she didn’t really hear what Clint was saying. Everybody at the party was talking.

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