Explication de texte.

I guess everybody wants to talk about last night’s Chrysler ad. OK. Let’s all watch it first; this looks like a nice HD version:

Wow. This is probably the seventh or eighth time I’ve watched it, and it keeps getting better. The opening shots are of the Rouge complex, the vast field of ominous smokestacks on the south side that you see from I-75 as you enter the metro area. It is not a pretty sight. It’s the sort of thing that if you were, say, a middle-aged woman coming to town on a house-hunting trip with your husband and little girl, preparing at midlife to pull up stakes and start over in a new city, and the day was gray and cold anyway, and suddenly the freeway starts to rise and you’re looking down at a place that looks like a set for a dystopian sci-fi flick featuring killer robots and toxic-avenger zombies — if you were that person, you might wonder what you’d gotten yourself into. (Not that I would know anything about that.)

Not only that, but the scene was shot in winter. No Pebble Beach ocean vistas or green mountain switchbacks or Bonneville salt flats with picturesque dust clouds, just bare trees, leaden skies and those clouds that roll in at Thanksgiving and don’t roll out until Easter except for once in a while in winter, when they are replaced by single-digit temperatures. Yep, this is the industrial Midwest, all right. The people we see on the street — Door Man and Dapper Man in Crosswalk — are African-American, as is the Fist. But not everybody. Look, a pretty skater. Are those real Lions doing roadwork? Can’t say. But it’s snowing, it’s cold, the manhole covers can’t contain the steam that rises up from below.

Is this hell? No, it’s Detroit. (And it’s a lot cooler.)

Now we see more of the car, because of course this is a car ad. If you’re an Eminem fan, or even know his face, you’ve already figured out who’s driving. After all, that’s his music on the soundtrack, along with…is that a gospel choir? Oh, man, they are going to go right up to the edge, aren’t they? And then here we are at the Fox — great marquee message, just fabulous — and yes, that is a gospel choir. Careful, Marshall, gospel choirs have been the ruin of many pop artists; they must be handled like plutonium, careful careful…

“This is the Motor City. And this is what we do.”

Perfect. In another venue, it would have played as bombast, but this is the Super Bowl. It’s where bombast goes to recharge itself, after it’s tired from visiting with Rush Limbaugh and Emerson, Lake and Palmer. This is where Apple dared to compare itself to George Orwell, where the Budweiser Clydesdales honored 9/11 victims, where a former presidential candidate made a joke about getting a boner for Britney Spears. You can’t go too far here, or if you can, no one has done it yet. And you came a little close, but not really. And you did it with such style. Ten out of 10. I hope the car’s half as good. You’re certainly going to sell a shitload of them here.

I hope this doesn’t signal the moment when Detroit Chic suddenly goes mainstream. If it does, I hope I can sell my screenplay first.

Elsewhere on the ad front, I can’t really speak with authority, as I only had the game on for background noise and didn’t watch all that closely. But, in general:

Darth Vader/Passat — very cute. However, I really wish I hadn’t read this obnoxious blog post about it first.

Groupon — ooh, edgy! I feel provoked! It’s so provocative! Actually, I’m not sure I trust Groupon anyway. I’ve used them once, for an opera ticket last fall, and felt I got what I paid for, i.e., a terrible seat for half price. But the half off stuff just seems wrong. From what I’ve heard, you offer at least a 50 percent discount, and then split the rest with Groupon, which means your discount is now 75 percent. I suppose the idea is to bring in new business, but I suspect it also brings in chintzy customers who tip for shit. Someone else, enlighten me.

The rest are a blur. No, I remember the Kia Optima, the epic journey. That was worth the time.

So. Another Monday, under a Monday-in-Detroit kind of sky. It’s been snowing on and off for three days, and finally, I feel like we have enough. I’ll feel differently in another month, but for now, the blanket seems just about right.

And now I have to get to work. Not in a Diego Rivera-mural sort of way, but in my own fashion. I risk repetitive strain injury! My collar is…well, at the moment it’s a turtleneck. Have a good day, all.

Posted at 9:46 am in Media, Popculch |

72 responses to “Explication de texte.”

  1. Peter said on February 7, 2011 at 10:01 am

    I have to agree -that Chrysler ad was superb.

    I have a friend who runs a scuba shop, and he checked into Groupon. You’re splitting 50-50 with them AFTER their administrative fees are covered, and in my friend’s case, that meant he was selling scuba lessons at 85% off. Won’t stay in business long with that kind of discount.

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  2. paddyo' said on February 7, 2011 at 10:10 am

    Loved the Chrysler ad, too. Visited DEE-troit only twice in my life, both as a working reporter, a couple of decades ago. I’ve learned more about the city from you and Sweet Juniper and, hey, from this ad than a dozen more reporting trips would’ve given me.

    I believe what Penelope Trunk (rhymes with junk and bunk) is really trying to say here is that she thinks the VW Super Bowl ad is a fuck-you to the Baby Boom.

    Same to you, Penny . . .

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  3. nancy said on February 7, 2011 at 10:11 am

    I have to add this: Kate and a couple of her friends have a band now; they take a group lesson/guided practice at a local music school on Saturdays. One weekend in December right before Christmas, practice was cancelled because half the band was out of town. The next weekend, their teacher told them, “Too bad you weren’t here last week. Chrysler called, looking for a band to shoot for a car commercial.” I told her James had to be mistaken, because car commercials aren’t shot like that, with crews roaming around looking around for teenage rock bands to photograph; they’re more painstakingly plotted than feature films. But after watching that montage in the first minute, I wonder if that isn’t exactly what they were doing — roaming around looking for local people doing classic Detroit things, like ice skating and running in the snow and … maybe making music?

    I wonder if I should tell her that she missed her shot to share two minutes with Eminem because she was having Christmas with her Ohio family.

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  4. Scout said on February 7, 2011 at 10:16 am

    That is one bad ass commercial. If a Subaru lovin’, flannel shirt wearin’, Eminem hatin’ liberal lesbo like me could picture herself driving that car… advertising win. I watched it twice and am going back for thirds.

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  5. Connie said on February 7, 2011 at 10:23 am

    Didn’t see them all last night, but watched the Chrysler commercial on the Freep page and loved it. I also got a big kick out of the Bridgestone ad in which the beaver returns the favor.

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  6. Catherine said on February 7, 2011 at 11:05 am

    That was a really good ad. Good on W + K. I liked the VO so much I had to find out who did it. Turns out it was a local guy: http://bit.ly/fpbfs5. Nicely played.

    I am 100% with Julie in the last thread re the anthems. Make America the Beautiful our national anthem, and have Lea Michelle sing it. And another thing: I think Cristina Aguilera has been sent away (rehab?) and there is a series of drag queens impersonating her.

    The bigger event in our house was the return of Glee. Best Thriller interpretation EVER!

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  7. Sue said on February 7, 2011 at 11:16 am

    I figured out it was Eminem pretty early and thought ‘sellout’ until I realized what was going on. Fantastic, right down to the tagline, Imported From Detroit. I assumed the gospel thing was part of E’s usual use of other music styles, which I think he’s always been very good at. I missed your take on it completely.
    We turned off the volume when Christina Aguilera came on because we knew we wouldn’t be able to stand it. My husband mentioned that there were betting sites wagering on the length of time it was going to take her to get through the song, due to her complete inability to dial anything back. And, not to sound like Tom and Lorenzo (because kittens, who could possibly do them justice?), but that wig looked like she bought it November 1 during clearance at the Halloween Express. She needs to talk to Cher, pronto.

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  8. Sue said on February 7, 2011 at 11:17 am

    Oh, and if I may add, I’m still creeped out by that icky-licky Dorito commercial.

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  9. MaryRC said on February 7, 2011 at 11:21 am

    Loved the Chrysler ad too, and I recognised the Rouge Plant right away. Lot of history there. I noticed some commenters on another blog wondering why the ad was dissing Seattle and learned that apparently Seattle is known as the Emerald City. Really? I don’t know anyone who would hear “Emerald City” and think Seattle and not the Wizard of Oz.

    That Passat ad — I agree with you about Penelope the blogger. Who knew that Generation X had invented the ability to communicate through eyebrows and guess when their children were hungry, not to mention being able to sense which PB&J-making mom was a vice president. But it seemed stupid before I saw her blog. Who starts their car with a child standing right in front of it?

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  10. James said on February 7, 2011 at 11:26 am

    I guess they could have picked a worse spokesperson, like the Motor City Madman.

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  11. baldheadeddork said on February 7, 2011 at 11:37 am

    “I hope the car’s half as good. You’re certainly going to sell a shitload of them here.”

    (Insert uncomfortable silence) Unfortunately Chrysler chose to highlight the 200 in this spot. Until a few months ago this car was called the Sebring, and it was hailed as probably the worst American car made in the last 30 years. Fiat did a hurry up refresh for this year that greatly improved the interior, retuned the suspension and cleaned up the exterior styling, but it still lags far behind the best in this class.

    I don’t mean to dump on Chrysler. What Fiat has done in less than two years is a genuine miracle. But he should have been driving the new 300.

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  12. ROgirl said on February 7, 2011 at 11:37 am

    The Chrysler commercial really nailed it. I’m not easily impressed and it worked for me. I loved “Keep Detroit Beautiful” on the marquee at the Fox.

    As for Groupon, a couple of weeks ago they were offering a deal with the Yoga Shelter, 24 sessions for $24. They have 2 locations near me and it seemed just too good to pass up. I haven’t gotten any other deals so far.

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  13. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 7, 2011 at 11:46 am

    So who was the voice in the first part of the Chrysler ad? I’m usually pretty good at picking out the person from audio, but I’m coming up empty.

    Sam Elliott, on the player intros — he could read one of my son’s Lego set instructions and make it sound windswept, powerful, and a touch wistful. What a voice.

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  14. harrison said on February 7, 2011 at 11:50 am

    My collar is…well, at the moment it’s a turtleneck.

    But, Nancy, is it the same color as a blue-collar shirt? Or is it in a pastel shade?

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  15. moe99 said on February 7, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    Seattle’s been the Emerald City since 1985 and it’s very well accepted around here. There was a contest and that appellation won. My submission was City of the Silver Linings.

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  16. Julie Robinson said on February 7, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    Glee was fabulous. I didn’t see much of the game or commercials but was very excited that an IU grad scored a touchdown, IU not being known for its football program. Nowadays it’s not much known for its basketball program either, she sighs.

    We joined Groupon but I think the only thing we’ve bought was dry cleaning. I suspect Nancy’s take on the typical customers is spot on.

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  17. baldheadeddork said on February 7, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    Update on why Chrysler chose the 200 (via Autoblog)

    “(Chrysler president) Olivier Francois told Autoblog by email from Europe Monday morning that the reason he used the Chrysler 200 was that the 300 is built in Ontario, while the 200 is built in Sterling Heights, MI. Given the Detroit-centric nature of the ad and the campaign slogan, he thought it best to kick it off with a Michigan product.”


    I don’t know if you have to be a deep-in-the-weeds industry geek to get this, but for a division president to make this kind of stand on principle is up there with virgin birth. Not long ago any of the big three would have put a car made in Mexico at the center of this ad if that was the model they wanted to move.

    The ad is a love letter to Detroit, but insisting on a car made there even if its not their best or most profitable model is a sign of respect for the city that hasn’t been seen in a long time. Bravo.

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  18. Sue said on February 7, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    From that blog:
    “We are the first generation that gave women a choice to do anything they want.”
    Now that your older sisters have opened the door for you, you mean?
    Don’t forget to ask your husband for permission when your choice results in any change that affects him, and make sure, when you do, that NOTHING CHANGES for your family, because that hot meal on the table at 6 p.m. and those clean socks are what you signed up for, honey.
    Oh, you don’t have to do that? You can make a choice without destroying a relationship? That’s because your older sisters already broke through that wall and first convinced their husbands that a change in the status quo wouldn’t bring about the end of the world and then TRAINED THEIR SONS that women have lots to offer on many fronts. And yes, there were casualties in that little skirmish.
    Really, I’m just gasping here.

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  19. del said on February 7, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    The Chrysler ad was great. It creates a feeling, something good ads do. The agency was from Moe’s part of the country — the people who created Nike’s Just Do It campaign. It was authentic in every way. Even the doorman — a guy named Chris Roddy — is really a doorman. I used to take the bus with him.

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  20. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 7, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    Found my answer – http://www.freep.com/article/20110207/ENT03/110207013/Michigan-man-performs-voice-over-Eminem-Chrysler-ad

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  21. Laura Lippman said on February 7, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    Sue, don’t stop there!
    “We like being home to make our kids peanut butter and jelly. You could not sell Baby Boomers with this. They think it’s lame to sit in a kitchen waiting for your kid to be hungry. We like having a male breadwinner and we’re not afraid to say it.”

    I realize it’s anecdotal, but I know boomer moms who made the choice to stay home with their kids, then went back to work when they were older. More to the point: It’s a big group of people (hence its power) encompassing almost twenty years. I can’t imagine a single generalization that would stick.

    “The woman in the kitchen is not glamorous. She’s efficient, self-confident, and she knows what her child needs. She looks like she was vice-president-of-something before she had kids.”
    It is natural to project one’s own values on such things. My SO believes this game between father-and-son — wait, how do we know the child’s gender? — has been going on for days. Who knows? Look, all I saw was a tired-looking woman push a sandwich toward a kid. Wait — was it on white bread? Then I say SHE IS A BAD MOMMMY. OK, just kidding. But seriously: That woman could be a dead-ringer for Dick Cheney and the viewer still wouldn’t know for sure if she had been vice president of anything. I swear, Penelope Trunk could watch THE CHANT OF JIMMY BLACKSMITH and think it was all about her. Me, I couldn’t help wondering if the VW ad makers saw the Robocop photos that I found through Nancy’s blog.

    ” The father knows his son so well that he can participate in the Darth Vader game that he hasn’t even been home to see unfolding.”

    Yes, let’s celebrate a culture in which dad isn’t home to participate in his children’s lives! Thank god we are working our way back there.

    But I do want to add: Gen X’ers are some of my best friends. Strangely, almost none of them have retro households with male breadwinners. They must not have gotten the memo.

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  22. coozledad said on February 7, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    It’s where bombast goes to recharge itself, after it’s tired from visiting with Rush Limbaugh and Emerson, Lake and Palmer.
    You would have thought C’est la Vie would have been enough of a workout to finish bombast off for good.
    The only thing worse than having that song in my head is thinking it would have been a good song to use in an ad for the Chevy Citation.

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  23. nancy said on February 7, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Argh. From the Freep story Jeff links:

    “My vision of Detroit is it’s tough, and it’s grizzly, and it’s hard and it’s real,” he said. “I tried to portray that in the voice.”

    How come no one ever calls She-who’s evil minions “mama grislies?” They get it wrong the other way all the time.

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  24. nancy said on February 7, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    Oh, and Cooze: JoodyB’s husband, with whom I went to college, used to crack the newsroom up with his Keith Emerson Rick Wakeman imitation. He’d drag two or three typewriters together on the desk for his keyboards. The best part with the blank affect. Comedy gold.

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  25. Sue said on February 7, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    Oh, Laura, I had to stop there – I could have ranted forever. I also liked her comment that her generation works harder on marriage and then cited a stat limited to college educated white women. This is a girl who knows her audience.
    If she thinks hers is the first generation self-righteously defending the ‘choice’ to have a breadwinning husband she should time-transport herself to a typical La Leche League meeting or food-buying cooperative pickup circa 1986.
    Little snot.

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  26. Hattie said on February 7, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Gee makes me feel like running out and buying an overpriced boring looking sedan so I’ll have something to drive to the grocery store and the senior center.
    I am going wild wishing I could do a satirical ad based on my town, Hilo, Hawaii, as I go about in my 2000 Toyota Camry, attracting no attention whatsoever. That would be a hoot!
    We’ve got poverty here, lots of it, but we don’t try to pretend otherwise.
    Around here what we see are little guys in monster trucks, which leads to the usual speculations about masculine insecurity.

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  27. LAMary said on February 7, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    Sue and Laura…preach it. I had an ongoing online fight with two younger women who thought hairy legged fat feminists had it all wrong. That no men ever kept them from doing whatever they wanted to do. I know they never got asked in a job interview if they used birth control, or were told that they made less than a male counterpart because he had a family to support.
    I stayed home with my kids for ten years, went back to work,and within four years was earning more then the kids father. Said father would claim he was tuned in to the kids. Once when he was pretending to be just as involved as I, I asked him what was my son’s current teacher’s name, what was his dentist’s name and what was the pediatrician’s name. He scored zero and yes,it was a trick question. The teacher was Liz Smith, the doctor was Eleanor Smith, and the dentist was Robert Smith.

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  28. coozledad said on February 7, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    We had a keyboard player who drank like Wakeman. Despite his bulk, he was prone to pass out at odd times. His enormous hands spanned several octaves, but when he slumped cold over the keyboard he could produce even bigger chords.
    The guitarist referred to this as “The constant stream of digital information” part of his performance.

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  29. Bitter Scribe said on February 7, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    The Chrysler ad was certainly well done, but didn’t Chrysler, along with the other big carmakers, play a big role in Detroit’s problems by shipping jobs out? To me, this was like Chimpy doing a classroom photo op with black kids the week before the GOP further slashes the social safety net.

    Second Sue on the Doritos commercial. It’ll be a long time before I can think about Doritos without feeling nauseated.

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  30. mark said on February 7, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Interesting weekend. The Obama interview with O’Reilly was excellent: the President did very well. O’Reilly’s lack of deference (arrogance) bothers me, but somehow it seems to allow him to get away with more probing questions. On balance though, I think the President deserves more respect and give Obama credit for handling things deftly.

    Kudos to Mrs. O as well. Her efforts on the food front finally reached my attention and the agreement with Walmart on lower-priced veggies is a great use of her bully-pulpit.

    Lots of great Reagan remembrances. Don’t know when Alzheimers begins to show itself, but the man gave some incredible speeches and had great impromptu moments even very late in his presidency.

    The Chrysler ad was neat, but I suspect it will do more to give a meaningless boost to Detroit pride than to sell cars. Linking a second-rate car from a barely resuscitated car company to a dying city will appeal to what group? I don’t see the gangsta/rapper demographic as anxious to brag about being “flyer than a Chrysler 200”

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  31. nancy said on February 7, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    I dunno, Mark — the Chrysler 300 was huge among rappers. Don’t you recall the story about Snoop Dogg calling Dieter Zetsche? Dr. Z didn’t even know who was calling him, at first.

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  32. Kim said on February 7, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    All I need to know about Penelope to avoid her in the future is summed up perfectly in her intro: “Now that I live on a farm…” In other words, You don’t. I do. Hahahaha, suckers.

    On Groupon: I don’t think I have seen worse commercials from people who are supposed to have made it big on their cleverness. But the depth of that cleverness has always been a mystery to me.

    The driver for Groupon is word of mouth. I am not convinced it is a sustainable Next Big Thing because it ends up costing business way more than a longer-term ad campaign would. This is, after all, a one-day ad campaign.

    Suppose this:
    Restaurant Sold 500 – $50 certs at $25 a piece
    Restaurant received $12.5 for each one sold ($6250 – a too-high amount, since Groupon takes its admin costs off the top)
    Groupon kept $12.5 for each one sold ($6250)
    Redemption rate is (will be) 75-85%
    If 75% (375) of Groupons are redeemed, it will cost you $18750 in food.
    if 85% (425) of Groupons are redeemed, it will cost you $21250 in food.

    These numbers assume that people don’t spend anything over the $50; if they do (and depending on what the markup is) the cost goes down. You only make money if you get repeat business from that customer – LOTS of repeat business.

    But imagine what a small business could do with a well-planned, well-executed plan that cost $20K. I am sure those of you in the biz world know it’s quite a lot.

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  33. Linda said on February 7, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Re: the shot of the Rouge factory complex. I’m a native Detroiter, and when I see them driving up on 75, I feel happy seeing the smoke come out. Factories belching smoke tell me that people are working in them, and earning cash and feeding their families. It’s a primitive response triggered by being the daughter of a factory rat. So sue me.

    And the Fox? Way cool. I remember when I was a little girl, and all the old-fashioned roccocco was covered up to make it more “modern” in its incarnation as a 2nd rate monster movie palace in the 1960s. It had good memories then–now it’s beautiful.

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  34. Dexter said on February 7, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    Great blog entry / essay, nance. I’m gonna make sure all my friends read it.

    The commercial blind-sided me, as I had no advance knowledge of it. It got to me instantly and I knew it had won my best-ad vote. Many callers to the sat-radio show I listen to gave it the nod, also, along with the beer commercial that featured the dog-sitter who trained the pooches to be servants.
    I have been driving to Detroit either up US 24 or on I-75 since 1965 and the Marathon storage tanks and The Rouge always kind of grab me when I drive through that stretch.
    If you ever wondered exactly what the term “production value” means, watch the Eminem / Chrysler commercial again.

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  35. adrianne said on February 7, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    Some rooting around on Penelope’s site unveils these facts: She and her husband are divorced. One factor seems to be her disdain for his decision to be a “stay at home” dad for a while while she went out to earn a living. So I think she protests too much in her description of the wonderful world of Gen Xers. She certainly doesn’t come anywhere near it in her own life.

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  36. Julie Robinson said on February 7, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    BTW, that pretty skater in the Chrysler ad is Alissa Czisny, and she also has a resurrection story. She lost many competitions due to shaky jump techniques and even shakier nerves and almost quit skating last year. Instead she moved to Detroit, relearned her jumps, and slowly built her confidence, winning Nationals last weekend. I suspect it’s no coincidence she’s in the ad.

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  37. jcburns said on February 7, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    The Chrysler ad made me sit up and smile. very nice job, and I agree with Dexter: LOADED with production value, and as much of a soul as advertising ever gets. Bonus: it was like an HD recording of what we see when we visit Nancy…if, er, we pulled up in a Chrysler 200!

    Fully 90% of the Super Bowl advertising seems to go for this “humans: they’re really really stupid” framework that apparently is one generation’s approach to humor. Doesn’t work for me…but I’m probably way outta the demographic.

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  38. Dexter said on February 7, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    JmmO: I thought the voice was the guy who did the old Errol Morris “We’ll show them” Miller beer ads…like the one with the flat-top man pedalling his old coaster brake bicycle through a snowstorm to fill up his bike-basket with Miller High Life.

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  39. MaryRC said on February 7, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    Adrianne, that explains a lot. So when Penelope says that her generation works harder at keeping a marriage together, she means “writing disdainfully about your ex-husband and his failings on your blog while you were still married, Oh, and giving the world a blow-by-blow account of your joint session with your marriage counsellor”. And I gather that that “male bread-winner” crack wasn’t directed at boomer feminists but at her ex.

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  40. Rana said on February 7, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Loved both car ads, thought Trunk’s article was full of shit. If the ad was really about the values she espouses, then both of the parents would be working part-time, and they’d be driving a much older vehicle, and living in a less-nice house. Boomer smugness was one of the things that was, historically, most irritating to us in Gen X. Copying it to slam at Boomers seems less like a challenge and more like an homage. I have far more in common with many people my parents’ age than I do with smugsters like her.

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  41. Casey said on February 7, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Watching the game here in Calgary we didn’t get the ads everybody else did. Saw it compliments of a Fb link during the game and this morning I found it agwin with all the others on YouTube adblitz. Even if I wasn’t homesick for Detroit I’d still say it was hands down the best of the bunch. Too bad it didn’t broadcast in Calgary, a city about as opposite Detroit as can be. It’d have been fun to chat with new friends here about it. Maybe they’d even think of me as cool….nah.

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  42. Casey said on February 7, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    P.S. Scout, I drive a Subaru don’t wear flannel, am a liberal, not a lesbian (that’d be my sister) and the ad won me over too.

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  43. moe99 said on February 7, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    More on Ms. Trunk: she married a farmer back in April, except that it wasn’t really a marriage because if it were the IRS would slap a lien on his farm because she owes taxes. She’s got quite a following. Go figure.

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  44. Julie Robinson said on February 7, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    Exchanging rings without a license makes it even less than a not-really marriage in my book. It makes it hypocrisy, plain & simple.

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  45. Jakash said on February 7, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    As far as Groupon is concerned, I didn’t like that commercial, but I don’t have much of a problem with the deals we’ve obtained. Many times we’ll get a Groupon for a restaurant that we already either like or have heard good things about. So, you’re just saving some money on something you’d be getting anyway. The business is benefitting from the new customers that come in and that they hope will return. Plus, just the exposure from being featured on this “cool” site. Granted, some of the redeemers are going to be bad tippers and cheapskates, but not all. I don’t see why the breakdown would be any different than with any other coupon. Is everyone that uses a 50-cent coupon for Tide a cheapskate? Some are, some are just thrifty. Now, that being said, I don’t know what would make the Groupon company worth billions of dollars. I think it’s pretty much of a fad at this point — it’s not like it’s a revolutionary concept. Plus, it’s evidently pretty easy to copy. As for whether it works out for the businesses in the long run — why do I, as a customer, care about that? That’s for them to figure out.
    Also, lots of coupons are for, say $30 worth of stuff for $15 at a place where you’re going to end up spending $70. So, I think a lot of the businesses are probably happy enough with that kind of return.

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  46. jcburns said on February 7, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    Yeah but besides all of that, do you think Groupon as a company deserves your support if they think that making comedy hay on the backs of suffering groups of others is a good corporate “face” to put out on the most expensive, most visible place to put your face out upon?

    I sure don’t. Will give them a very wide berth based on their choices.

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  47. Sue said on February 7, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    It seems Ms. Trunk is still fighting the Mommy Wars; she has a guest blogger just prior to the VW post whose post it titled “The Argument For Paying Moms Less”.
    She writes about Aspergers and how it affects her working life and actually those posts are kind of interesting, so I’ll give her that.
    But someone writing about business who says “I funded the company by not paying my taxes”, then has to fake-marry because the consequences of that funding decision would affect the financial stability of her new husband? Not my source for career advice.

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  48. Jakash said on February 7, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    jcburns, I admire your principles. I certainly understand the outrage at this commercial. I think it reflects poorly on whoever produced and greenlighted the thing. But the copy in their e-mails is tongue-in-cheek, edgy stuff, so it’s not surprising that their ad would be edgy. I agree with you that they went OVER the edge, and in the worst possible place. I’m afraid, though, that this Detroit commercial is not the thing that will determine whether I buy a Chrysler 200 and this obnoxious Tibet commercial is not what will determine whether I purchase a Groupon. If that makes me unprincipled, I guess I’ll have to think about that.

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  49. Linda said on February 7, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    Memo to Ms. Trunk:
    Volkswagen did the ad that way, with people in that age group, because they are marketing to people with kids. Who happen right now not to be baby boomers because they are too old. Period. It has nothing to do with your feelings about your SAHEH (stay at home ex husband), or your life, or the people you despise. Sometimes it ain’t all about you.

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  50. jcburns said on February 7, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    Yeah, again, I may be just hopelessly out of the demo, but “edgy” tends to be celebrated as a positive, ooh, look, they’re cool, they’re so edgy. And so (in my imagination, perhaps) ad weasels sit around and say “okay, okay, this year we have to be edgier. Take that edginess and go further, young copywriter!” It’s a fools game. Edginess, true creativity with style and a spark is not created with the additive principle.

    Actually, that’s true for most of the creative profession. Two pies in the face are not twice as funny as one. A headline set in three times as bold a font is not three times more noticeable. If you put five times as many words in an ad you don’t get five times as much information across.

    One of the best ways to cross the line into mean, tasteless, even cruel communications is to try and apply additive principles to creativity.


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  51. blue girl said on February 7, 2011 at 5:56 pm

    Right on, jcburns!

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  52. Pam said on February 7, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    I liked the Chrysler ad as well. But the first thing I noticed was the distinctly midwestern accent – “when you’ve ben to hell and back” ben not been, get it? There are more examples.

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  53. moe99 said on February 7, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    Here’s someone who didn’t like the Chrysler ad:


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  54. Dexter said on February 7, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    Well, Adam Weinstein of Mother Jones, thanks for the grade school history lesson. We here in the Midwest, the Rust Belt, have lived this existence for decades, we know this stuff…all of it. We read papers and we attend union meetings and we hear all the bad news, the changes, we have been laid off and we got called back and we got laid off some more and some of us found a way out of the maze and got enough years in to get a pension, and we are indeed the lucky ones.
    You have missed the point. That Chrysler 200 is made in Sterling Heights, Michigan, just nine of those mile-roads north of 8 Mile. That makes it a Dee-Troit car. The ad delivered, big time. NBC Nightly News and correspondent Anne Thompson did a full segment on the ad to close the 6:30 broadcast tonight…

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  55. Scout said on February 7, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    PS: I don’t really drive a Soobie (but rather a 13 yr olf VW Golf) or wear flannel. Those were just a nod to the comments on the previous post. 🙂

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  56. Deborah said on February 7, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    Fantastic ad Nancy. Since I was on my way back from Manhattan during the game last night I would have completely missed it had you not embedded it in your post. No one at work today said a thing about it. Curious. The sequence of the industrial smoke stacks is right out of Michaelangelo Antonioni’s Red Desert, an Italian movie made back in the 60s. I’ve certainly heard of Eminem and the last time I saw images of him he had bleached white/blond hair, or am I thinking of someone else? In this ad he looks like he’s about 12 years old.

    I’ve now got the croupy cough along with the sore throat and absolutely no energy. Murderous day at work, looking forward to a good night’s sleep.

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  57. Jo said on February 7, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    LOVED the Chrysler ad, thought it hit all the right notes. I especially loved seeing the Rivera mural echoing the sculptural fist, the dark wintry skies (as pointed out by NN)and the almost-underplayed Eminem track. And I’m a ’97 Subie-driving, liberal-leaning former Michigander.
    As a current Chicago resident, I’ve enjoyed many Groupon deals over the last year, similar to Jakash’s experience, but find their daily emails irksome in their cleverness and ‘edginess’. A straightforward description could sell to me, and more and better. The Groupon Superbowl ad was appalling.
    Most of the Superbowl ads seemed to have been written by idiot 18-year-old copywriters, but as JCBurns mentions, we’re not the demographic.

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  58. nancy said on February 7, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    Well, after a certain amount of Googling in the oeuvre of Penelope Trunk, my summation is thus: Bomb-throwing provocateur who thrives on attention. Tweeted her miscarriage, and got plenty of it. So I’ve decided not to pay her any more of mine. Who’s with me?

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  59. Deborah said on February 7, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    Penelope who? he he.

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  60. joodyb said on February 7, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    hah! just when i think i’ve heard them all! thanks, nance!

    xtina, o, xtina; you are such a hot mess. i prayed you’d avoid the disney curse, but like brit-brit, you have spun outside your own wretched PR orbit. and you never learned to stop shouting and just sing. and you can, i know you can, because we’ve heard you.

    tangential aside: my dear departing boss (leaving this week to take over in Cleveland!) drives a 300. of course, he was in detroit when he bought it, so he hadn’t much choice. still, he picked the rapper car, cuz he is cool.

    btw, i DID get another passat wagon. simply, the gods spoke. i went back today and drove the CC and the wagon again, and in the end, the wagon was just too good a value.

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  61. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 7, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    Penelope ended up getting some of my time since she talks about going to a mediator, which piqued my curiosity — failing marriages, not so interesting (I’d reverse Tolstoy’s famous aphorism).

    But there’s some kind of morbidly fascinating Jungian karma bomb going off when the self-proclaimed guru of career guidance is getting divorced because her husband can’t figure out what he wants to do with his life.

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  62. nancy said on February 7, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    “Self-proclaimed” is the key. God, I miss editors.

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  63. alex said on February 7, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    Even the name Groupon sounds like it was made up by 18-year-old copywriters. It conjures (in this sick and twisted mind, anyway) the image of a communal Kotex.

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  64. brian stouder said on February 7, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    I think Alex just won the thread!

    Well played, sir!

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  65. Crazycatlady said on February 7, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    I really loved the Chrysler commercial too. Whenever I drive the I-75 corridor entering the city, the smokestacks and firestacks remind me of Mordor in ‘Lord of the Rings.’ So this is what Hell looks like! And I can no longer pretend that my hometown neighborhood is ‘safe’. My neighbors across the street were murdered in a home invasion on Saturday. Scary and shocking. Nice people, an elderly man and his son. Sometimes I hate this city- then I realize there is nowhere to go that promises you safety and security anywhere anymore.

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  66. Deborah said on February 7, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    Damn, I wasn’t able to watch the Chicago Code pilot that aired tonight because there’s something wrong with our cable. This started a week or so ago when my husband accidentally unplugged the cable box. we don’t watch much TV so we didn’t pay any attention to it until I tried to watch this show tonight. I have a feeling my office got edited out of the pilot but still I would have liked to have seen for myself.

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  67. Deborah said on February 7, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    Since I’m still up, hacking or crouping away, I’ll tell you a story of my Manhattan trip this weekend. All the while we were at our hotel going and coming we kept seeing these impossibly thin, tall women walking around. We figured they had to be fashion models living round about. Then Sunday when we went back to collect our bags after we checked out earlier, before we headed out to the airport there were herds of them everywhere. It turns out they were having a casting call at that hotel for some TV show about models. I’ve never seen so many towering, emaciated young women in one place at one time before.

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  68. Dexter said on February 7, 2011 at 11:47 pm

    Don’t worry about the emaciated ones, Deborah, the camera will fatten them up by 20 pounds.
    I do hope this winter ends soon. I bought a package of maple frosted rolls for breakfast tomorrow. Right. And then I got into my wife’s box of Hot Tamale candies and made a dent in them, too. I think I shall have to join the local YMCA.

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  69. Dexter said on February 8, 2011 at 12:19 am

    Check out today’s Google Doodle…Jules Verne’s 183rd birthday…it’s a great animation aboard The Nautilus.

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  70. MaryRC said on February 8, 2011 at 1:35 am

    Dexter, that’s gorgeous – but I started to make the images move by toggling the little lever to the right and now I’m feeling seasick.

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  71. basset said on February 8, 2011 at 8:37 am

    Didn’t watch the Super Bowl, haven’t seen any of the spots except the VW Darth Vader (neighbor came over, said “you gotta see this!” and played it on YouTube) and the Chrysler here… which looked interesting until I realized Eminem was involved, which turned me off completely.

    And it’s an ugly car, anyway.

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  72. coozledad said on February 8, 2011 at 9:04 am

    senility is a powerful drug, nearly as powerful as the accumulated misperceptions of a lifetime of outright chauvinism.

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