After sparking a debate among pundits over its real or imagined political message, one of the most buzzed-about Super Bowl commercials — Chrysler’s “It’s Halftime in America” ad — is making another set of waves not for what it says but for where it was shot.
It turns out that the two-minute spot, which has gravelly voiced Clint Eastwood touting Detroit and its automobile industry rebound as inspirational symbols for the rest of the country, was not actually filmed in the Motor City — a fact now being used as yet another talking point by media experts arguing the ad’s intentions.
According to Wieden + Kennedy Portland, the advertising agency that produced the commercial, the spot was shot in New Orleans and various California cities including San Francisco, Oakland and right here in Los Angeles — where the tunnel scenes were filmed at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum.
For the commercial’s Detroit-only scenes, Chrysler used footage from its 2011 Super Bowl ad featuring Detroit-raised rapper Eminem driving through the country’s auto capital.
Chrysler, which maintains that the ad is apolitical, says the various filming locations were never meant to act as stand-ins for Detroit.
“The filming of the piece throughout the country was intentional,” said Chrysler spokeswoman Dianna Gutierrez. “This message was about the country as a whole and it was important to showcase that breadth.”
A similar ad controversy flared up in 2009 when the California Milk Advisory Board, which oversees the state’s dairy farmers, decided to shoot part of its “Happy Cows” commercial series in Auckland in order to take advantage of New Zealand’s low production costs. The argument from those opposed to the ads then was as it is now: if a commercial is promoting a specific place, well, it should probably film there.
— Dima Alzayat
Photo: The Monument to Joe Louis statue in downtown Detroit. Credit: Carlos Osorio / Associated Press.