The Chrysler 200: Imported from Where?

By Charles Krome

Here in the Detroit area, the most exciting part of last night’s football game had little to do with the final score; instead, most of the buzz focused on the sight of Eminem driving around the city in a new Chrysler 200. But while it turned out to be a nice commercial for Detroit itself, I’m not so sure how effective it was for the automaker.

Certainly, with the 200 and Motown each being much improved this year, an ad celebrating the rebirth of both made sense. And going with the local boy made good as the co-star—especially when said local boy is an edgy, internationally famous rapper with numerous current Grammy noms—was a bold yet ideal strategy, perhaps even representing a nod to when Snoop Dogg came a-calling to DaimlerChrysler for a new 300 back in the day.

But I do have two nits to pick here. First off, let’s set the way-back machine for 2002, when the modern-day cinema epic known as “8 Mile” debuted. There’s a scene in there in which our hero, played by a certain Marshall Mathers, is facing off against his detractors during a free-style rap battle. And when it’s time for Mr. Mathers to start dissing one of the guys who had been running him down, he drops the following rhyme: “But I know something about you/You went to Cranbrook, that’s a private school.”

Because, obviously, the worst thing you can do in that movie is to try to come off like a “real” Detroit gangsta when you actually went to a highly selective, internationally renowned educational facility that’s located in the tony suburban environs of Bloomfield Hills and where tuition for grades 9-12 runs a cool $27,450 per year. For those unfamiliar with Cranbrook, I suggest a visit to Wikipedia.

And for those unfamiliar with the geography of the Detroit area, I’ll point out that Cranbrook is about 26 miles away from Joe Louis’ big black fist downtown, and Auburn Hills, where Chrysler is actually headquartered, is 30 miles distant. Sterling Heights, where the 200 is assembled, is a few miles closer in, but I’d say it only qualifies as the Motor City in the minds of Chrysler’s ad agency.

The Chrysler 200 “Imported from Detroit”? Only on TV.

The bigger quibble involves a bigger stretch: No matter how good the new 200 is now, can anyone who knows either the auto industry or Eminem really believe the latter is going to be driving around in the former?

Author: Charles Krome

Charles Krome is a long-time automotive journalist who spent more than 10 years on the inside at General Motors and Ford, and also has corporate communications experience with Audi, Porsche and BASF Automotive Refinish. As a big motorsports fan growing up in the Detroit area, Krome was lucky enough to be able to attend numerous NASCAR, Indy car, F1 and SCCA events while still in his formative years. This, combined with a childhood that included significant (passenger) seat time in cars from Lotus and Jensen Healey, made him a car guy at an earlier age. Today, he lives in metro Detroit with his car wife, raising car kids.

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16 Comments

  1. I liked the commercial. I liked the edge, the almost blunt text. The admission that things are tough in Detroit, but underneath it all, it is still the heart of industrial America, and though it is maligned it is still beating.
    After all that, the commercial made me look into the 200. Isn’t that what a commercial supposed to do?

  2. I loved the commercial. Detroit could use the hand. Lets hope they’ve got the quality issues solved.

  3. I loved the commercial, and I’m not from Detroit. It’s a similar heartstring-puller to the one that Chrysler showed at its press conference at NAIAS, with the kids of assembly workers quoting positive press clippings about Chrysler cars. (And I was very entertained that a disproportionate number were Examiner quotes; not exactly an automotive authority (I know; I used to write for them!)

    That being said, my guess is that this is an attempt to rebuild the Chrysler brand, which – let’s face it – has been to hell and back, just as they say in the beginning of the commercial.

    Toyota had the worst car commercials during the game; all serious and fact-based. Hardly enough to stay on the couch to watch them.

  4. I heard a rumor last night that Chrysler used the 200 for this because the 300 isn’t built in the U.S. … It’s built in Canada.

  5. While the Chrysler 200 “Imported from Detroit” was cute, I learned almost nothing about the car. Another Chrysler commercial currently running tries to connect past Chryslers and their glamour having being re-born in the current 300. Really? There’s isn’t a current Chrysler model that can sit in the same room with, say, a 1962 Imperial Crown Coupe. That car, with its distinctive looks, really made it a head turner.

  6. Good point – wasn’t thinking about that fact!

  7. Engines made in Mexico, shipped to Canada by rail then car built in Canada. No jobs for Detroit auto workers. Outright lie. Do not buy Chrysler. Buy American!

  8. Doesn’t steammachinist know that virtually every vehicle sold in the United States has many parts built in other countries. America is two continents North and South. Many cars are American, not so many United States. Ford, GM and Chrysler build cars in Mexico and Canada. Toyota, Nisson, Hyundai, Mercedes and Kia build cars in the USA. Time to get real.

  9. steammachinist, the 3.6 liter engine is actually built in Michigan, and the Chrysler 200 is assembled in Sterling Heights, Michigan, not in Canada. So your characterization is pretty far off.

  10. So how many other companies, Chrysler included, are going to bring back car manufacturing to Detroit? And will they pay decent union wages? Don’t hold your breath. It’s just more BS from an industry that believed in “planned obsolence” which, it turns out, included the workers who committed their blood, sweat & eventual tears as their jobs were “outsourced” to cheap overseas labor while the fat cats at the top lived in their private, exclusive, expensive, gated communities. I’ll believe them when they reopen or build new factories for 50% plus of U.S. cars. Until then it just more “bread & circus” for the masses. Remember “All ads lie”. It’s just propaganda to keep us from looking behind the curtain at what the wizard really is…a lying sham.

  11. The June 13th/11 GOP debates by the Republicans claim that lowering taxes to zero for big corporations will bring back jobs to America. Then why would this work? If jobs in other countries such as China/India and Mexico pay lower wages I would feel that that is the reason for out sourcing to other countries. For America to compete wages will have to be competative with slave labour nations. 2% of the population of the USA; the corporate people who own 90% of the United States will keep their wages and perks while the burden on the national debt will be placed on all that juicy taxable income by the working class. Common sence to any economist right? They know which side of the bread is buttered on.

  12. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/nov/24/us-auto-industry-closing-great-divide-in-quality-w/
    New hires performing non-core, non-assembly work at the Big Three will be paid a wage that starts at $14 per hour, which is half the $28 that existing non-core employees earn. Transplants, which pay about $27 per hour, “deliberately set wages high enough to make it unattractive for workers to join a union,” Mr. Stack said.

    GM has estimated that about 70 percent of its current workers will be eligible for retirement before the four-year contract expires. Many buyouts and retirements of UAW workers will lead to a new wave of people earning the lower wage and receiving considerably
    Guess what people, you have all been fooled by the rich only because they pull all the strings in D.C. Those real wages by trained workers excluding benifits are about $45/hr. That makes for a nice living like buying your own home, making the morgage payments on time, two week vacations every summer and Christmas, a reliable car in the garage and retirement after 30 years. Cut those wages down to about $25-$30 and vacations mean working vacations because all the home repairs have to be done yourself. The reliable car is purchased through a lease or a 10 year loan that takes all your extra savings. The kids pay for their own education past high school and retirement is nothing but a dream before 70 years old. Meanwhile the corporate heads continue wage garnishment and smile while the workers struggle. Vote Obama, he is the only one who has the American Dream still alive.

  13. Recently have seen the 200 commercial, thought it was a pretty good looking car. Even being Asian, and not wanting to follow the stereotypical “let me go buy a Honda”…although I have done it in the past, but have owned domestics such as the Trailblazer SS, 03′ cobra…..

    Was and still very impressed with what Chrysler has done with their vehicles. There are still a couple of small things I would address if I worked for them, however, for the price….There just isn’t competition with the 200. I purchased very recently a 200s with the pentastar v6 and still impressed with the ride quality and options it came with.

    Purchased a new one…..pulled me away from buying a used Acura TL sh-awd. Chrysler, keep up the great work, I think the commercial is a success. Marketing department should be applauded.

  14. Isn’t the 200 based on the same Alfa Romeo they use for the Dodge Dart?

  15. Yes, but this is referring to the old Chrysler 200, which shares some DNA with Mitsubishi, none with Alfa.

  16. I drove a 2014 and 2015 yesterday. The 200’s are junky and tinny. Yes, the price is cheap but they are a piece of junk.

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