February 11, 2012 7:37 AM
After almost a week of reactions to Chrysler Group’s Super
Bowl commercial, the purest, most heart-felt reaction is still the
very first, from a room full of unsuspecting Chrysler Group dealers
in Las Vegas.
Just hours before kickoff of Super Bowl XLVI, CEO Sergio Marchionne
surprised the packed room of Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram Truck and
FIAT dealers by taking the podium to open the private franchise
meeting. He wanted to personally greet the dealers, thank them for
their hard work, and give them a preview of Chrysler Group’s
Super Bowl commercial, “It’s Halftime in
“I felt that you, our dealers, who are a fundamental part of
our group and key to our success, deserved this video more than
anyone,” Marchionne told the dealers.
They quietly watched the video, hanging on Clint Eastwood’s
every word. When the two-minute commercial ended, their reaction
was immediate. A standing ovation -- as you can see below:
There were no cries of political manipulation. But some tears were
shed. There were no complaints. Just nods of understanding and
approval, and lots of smiles.
With Clint’s words still ringing in their ears –
“Yeah, it’s halftime in America, and our second half is
about to begin” – Marchionne concluded by simply
stating: “Nothing more needs to be said.”
That lump some felt in their throat was genuine. Just ask Chuck
Eddy, a member of Chrysler Group’s National Dealer Council.
He had the difficult task of starting the business portion of the
franchise meeting, his voice quivering with emotion as he spoke of
dealers who have put their blood, sweat, and tears into the
These were dealers that have been through it all – changes in
company ownership, the recession, the bankruptcy, and the recovery.
Their commitment to the company was clearly felt.
“This one was very, very emotional for me,” David
Kelleher, president of the Chrysler Group National Dealer Council,
said after the franchise meeting. “It was emotional for the
people around me. I saw a lot of tears. Now we’re ready to
move on to the next chapter. We’re only half way
So let the political debate rage on. The Chrysler Group dealers get
it. Their second half has begun and they are ready.
For more dealer comments on the NFL Championship Game ad, see