Screencap from Dodge Challenger World Cup commercialEnlarge Photo
Last week, Chrysler launched its first ad campaign for a new model since emerging from bankruptcy in 2009. Frankly, we found the spot for the Jeep Grand Cherokee a little confusing, but not as much as this clip for the Dodge Challenger:
We've seen a few other Dodge ads in recent weeks -- first that "semi-Hemi" clip for the Charger (which we liked), and then that UFO one for the Challenger (which we didn't). With no new products to announce, these are some of the only vehicle-specific ads that Chrysler has released over the past few months, and we have to give the company a little credit for making waves where they could.
This new clip, however.... Well, it was created specifically to commemorate the U.S. vs. U.K. game at the World Cup. Which explains the Revolutionary War theme, but not, perhaps, why music straight out of Ken Burns' Civil War documentary is playing in the background. The fact that the U.S. and U.K. tied 1-to-1 in their match-up doesn't give the ad much post-game resonance, either.
Our bigger beef: Marchionne & Co. are trying once more to drive home the fact that Dodge, like Jeep, is a quintessentially American company -- not, contrary to popular belief, an Italian one, nor a U.S. government agency. Of course that's true, but the way Chrysler goes about making its point is more than a little jingoistic.
Call us cynical and jaded, but we're wary of ads that try to make consumers feel patriotic for buying certain products (and therefore unpatriotic for not doing so). Using the American flag as a marketing tool always makes us feel "icky": it's obvious and pandering, especially when the commercial in question is set on a battlefield and backed by the sound of lonely, noble violins.
On the upside, this spot should come in handy for replays over the July 4 weekend. And like the other Dodge ads we mentioned, it features the voice of Michael C. Hall, who's really good at evoking an appealingly cocky attitude. And let's not forget that remarkable George Washington lookalike: he must rake it in at kids' parties and teabagger socials.