Super Bowl Commercials: Eminem Ad Boosts Chrysler

Last Updated Feb 9, 2011 1:13 PM EST

He's had as almost many hard knocks and huge hits as Detroit itself. Now Eminem's Super Bowl commercial for Chrysler (below) is winning big with car buyers -- and that's translated into heavy interest in Chrysler on car shopping web sites. This is a big week for the rapper, who is performing on the Grammy awards Sunday night on CBS. Having garnered 10 nominations for his album "Recovery," he might spend a lot of time on stage.
The "Imported from Detroit" commercial for Chrysler -- a powerful paean to the motor city, its tribulations and its car-making expertise -- didn't score well initially in rankings such as USA Today's Ad Meter. It finished way behind ads starring dogs and kids, and has even sparked a backlash among some critics. The commercial only mentioned the car it was pushing, the Chrysler 200 (convertible pictured here ) briefly at the end of the spot. But during and after the game, traffic checking out that model on spiked 1,619% and a similar 1,013% on Kelley Blue Book's "Chrysler's ad reaffirmed the company's loyalties to Detroit in an emotionally powerful way, and it looks like viewers responded to that message," said Edmunds analyst Michelle Krebs.

The two-minute commercial is part of an effort by Chrysler, now controlled by Italy's Fiat, to improve its image along with the quality of its products. (See 5 Reasons to Consider a Chrysler).

Here's a quick look at how other companies did with their ads:

Volkswagen The company's entry in the cute kid category was called The Force. A little boy dressed as Darth Vader tries, and fails, to use his powers to do anything in the house -- from turning on the washing machine to controlling the family dog. But then he magically starts up the family's 2012 VW Passat...with a little help from his Dad's remote control. Finishing third overall in the USA Today rankings, it resulted in a 114% increase in shopper traffic for the Passat.

Chevrolet The biggest auto advertiser on the Super Bowl scored reasonably well with two of its ads. Its Hot Teacher in a Camaro ad generated a 69% boost in Camaro shopper traffic. "Misunderstanding," featuring hard-of-hearing oldsters who can't understand the 42 miles per gallon rating, led to a 63% increase for the Cruze. (For more on the Cruze and other high-mileage cars, see Gas Mileage: 40 mpg is the New 30.)

The Eminem commercial shows that Chrysler -- despite going through bankruptcy, a bailout and a European alliance -- may be able to reestablish its hometown credentials with a patriotic appeal.

Photo courtesy of Chrysler Group

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    Jerry Edgerton, author of Car Shopping Made Easy, has been covering the car beat since Detroit companies dominated the U.S. market. The former car columnist for Money magazine and Washington correspondent for Business Week, Edgerton specializes in finding the best deals on wheels and offering advice on making your car last.