Last night, with the Super Bowl playing and over 100 million people watching, America took front and center. Everything that is pure red, white, and blue was on display. There were gladiators on the gridiron and BIG, over the top entertainment acts. Bruno Mars killed during the halftime show, blending a sweet mix of James Brown, Frank Sinatra, and a young Michael Jackson. Then, of course, during breaks in the game, viewers watched companies slug it out for the title of America’s most patriotic auto manufacturer.
Out of all the commercials, Chrysler played the red, white, and blue card the most…by farrrr. Their commercial featured images of Detroit and classic symbols of historic America like Marilyn Monroe and James Dean and Dr. J. Doubling down on the American pride, Chrysler featured a Bob Dylan narration, urging Americans to, “Let Germany brew your beer. Let Switzerland make your watch. Let Asia assemble your phone. We will build your car.”
Unfortunately, Chrysler probably was the least deserving company to make this claim because they are currently and wholly owned by Italian based Fiat! This, however, did not stop Chrysler from going all in on their message. Dylan continues on by saying, “When it’s made here, it’s made from the one thing that you can’t import from anywhere else: American pride.”
Sure, this sounds good for a commercial, but is it really true? Well, yes and no. Recently, Chrysler has been a company that has been slowly drifting away from America year by year. In fact, it was just in January that Chrysler cut all American ownership ties. Joann Muller of Forbes magazine reports, “After months of wrangling, Fiat SpA and a United Auto Workers trust fund agreed to a $4.35 billion deal for the Italian car maker to buy the remaining stake in Chrysler Group LLC.”
Obviously, it is a great thing that Chrysler’s Detroit based auto plants survived and stayed open, keeping thousands of American workers employed. But was it ethical for this Italian owned company to portray itself as bleeding American patriotism? Adding to the dysfunction is Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne’s plans to take down American competitors like GM. Muller reports, “Marchionne’s vision since taking control of Fiat in 2004 has been to create a global automaker with the scale to challenge industry leaders General Motors, Volkswagen AG and Toyota Motor.”
Even though Bob Dylan tells us in his iconic raspy voice that “Detroit made cars and cars made America,” we need to ask ourselves: what cars are going to make America great now and going forward? Despite their best efforts, Chrysler is not as American as their commercials proclaim to be.