For those who don’t think the Federal Election Commission should be taking a look-see at Chrysler’s “Halftime in America” Super Bowl ad, narrated by Clint Eastwood, persuasive, new information emerges.
It seemed self-evident that the ad was a pro-Obama campaign ad and, more to the point, a thank-you note to the president from a bailed out industry that was masquerading as a little pep talk for Americans.
But Hollywood Reporter reveals that this year’s most-discussed Super Bowl ad was produced by a Portland, Oregon agency, several of whose key people had worked free for the Obama campaign in 2008 (and I’d say are working for it it again, though this time Chrysler, saved by me and thee, is picking up the tab). From the Reporter:
Several members of the Wieden+Kennedy team that produced the Eastwood spot were among the creative professionals who privately supported Obama’s first election campaign. Creative director Aaron Allen, for example, created a striking poster, called "United the States of America," on candidate Obama’s behalf.
The poster shows an Obama silhouette bringing together red and blue spheres meant to represent America’s partisan division. His official bio notes that he “also works on personal art projects, including a poster for the 2008 Obama campaign that was shown in several galleries and publications.”
The ad’s art director, Jimm Lasser, created an entire art exhibit in New York around Nike-style shoes bearing Obama’s image. Another of the creative directors, Michael Tabtabai has used his Twitter account recently to send out the message “Obama x Incredible Hulk. America STRONG!” and linking to an image of an action doll of the president looking like the comic book super hero.
The Reporter says there is “some online evidence suggesting that there was neither consultation nor collaboration between the agency and the Obama reelection campaign.” Consultation and collaboration weren't necessary. One might, indeed, argue that the agency was functioning like one of those super-PACs, which were a "threat to democracy" until the president decided otherwise.
I started out saying that the FEC should look at the ad—I was being facetious. Transparency is the best astringent. Millions saw the ad, and it backfired. I'm willing to bet most members of the voting public saw it for what it was and heard the desperation loud and clear and, no doubt, many were not encouraged to give Coach Obama a second chance, given the bummed-out bleakness captured in the ad.
The “Halftime” spot has been compared to Ronald Reagan’s famous “Morning in America” advertisement. There is a world of difference between a gritty halftime with desperate promises of touchdowns later and a fresh morning with lower unemployment.
I’d call it a damned effective ad.