How Much, If Any, of This Chrysler 200 Ad's Copy Did Bob Dylan Write?

Ronnie Schreiber
by Ronnie Schreiber

Chrysler marketeer Olivier Francois has been a master at getting enormous buzz from Chrysler’s Super Bowl commercials. Two years ago, they launched the memorable Imported From Detroit ad for the Chrysler 200, using music by Detroit area rapper Eminem. That ad was said by many to be more memorable than the 2011 200, a warmed over Sebring, every car writer’s favorite whipping boy. Chrysler has an all-new 200 that it just revealed at the Detroit auto show less than a month ago and to get the buzz going on the new car, Francois has tweeked the 200’s tagline to “American Import” and instead of hiring someone contemporary like Mr. Mathers, Chrysler’s Global Hue ad agency went old school and engaged Bob Dylan to appear in, provide music and perform the voiceover for the Chrysler 200’s new Super Bowl spot. I’m also wondering if Bob didn’t also write some of the ad copy.

Chrysler’s press release about the commercial calls the voiceover an apologue. An apologue or apolog (from the Greek ἀπόλογος, a “statement” or “account”) is a brief fable or allegorical story with pointed or exaggerated details meant to teach a moral lesson. In his voiceover, Dylan intones:

Is there anything more American than America?
‘Cause you can’t import original.
You can’t fake true cool.
You can’t duplicate legacy.
Because what Detroit created was a first
and became an inspiration to the… rest of the world.
Yeah…Detroit made cars. And cars made America.
Making the best, making the finest, takes conviction.
And you can’t import, the heart and soul, of every man and woman working on the line.
You can search the world over for the finer things,
but you won’t find a match for the American road
and the creatures that live on it.
Because we believe in the zoom,
and the roar, and the thrust.
And when it’s made here, it’s made with the one thing
you can’t import from anywhere else. American…Pride.
So let Germany brew your beer,
Let Switzerland make your watch,
Let Asia assemble your phone.
We…will build…your car.

Now some of that was undoubtedly written by an ad agency employee (“so let Germany brew your beer”) but I’ve been a fairly serious fan of Bob Dylan’s for about a half century and some of those lines sound authentically Dylanesque to me. The passage, “You can search the world over for the finer things, but you won’t find a match for the American road and the creatures that live on it. Because we believe in the zoom, and the roar, and the thrust,” sounds to my ears and brain as if it could have been on an episode of Dylan’s satellite radio disc jockey show. “The creatures that live on it”, the word creatures, would seem odd if anyone else said it, but it sounds naturally awkward in Dylan’s voice. “We believe in the zoom, and the roar, and the thrust”, in its invocative echo of The Lord’s Prayer’s “kingdom, power, and glory” is again, something I’d expect to hear from Dylan.

So what do the Dylanologists among TTAC’s Best & Brightest think? Was Bob just reading a script, or do you think he lent his considerable poetic hand to the selling of Chrysler’s?

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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  • GuyNumberOne GuyNumberOne on Feb 07, 2014

    I won't bother to reply to the dime store intellectuals who deride Bob as irrelevant or a "60s snot", or delve into the looking-for-something-that's-not-there politics of the commercial, for obvious reasons. I'll leave that to the less reasoned among us. I came here specifically because I, like the writer, was curious to know if Bob did, in fact, write some of the copy, as it sure does sound like his work. I'd bet anything he wrote most, if not all, of it. As a parting shot, it's always amusing to hear a vainglorious butcher/baker/candlestick maker admonish the genius of Dylan and his unrefuted impact on the world as we now know it from the insignificance of their shop/office/cubicle. Truly astounding. As the saying goes, "Any idiot with a keyboard....".

  • POE POE on Feb 07, 2014

    How much is Chrysler paying you to say that? Sounds like the feeble attempt of some shill to disgrace other opinions. Oh you are a "dime store intellectual" if you disagree with me. Does it really take that much intelligence to see that that commercial is about as American as Fiat?

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