UT Alums Behind Buzzed-About Super Bowl Ad

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The austere faces of the labor force. The humming of a manufacturing plant slowly gaining new life. A resilient American city fighting to rebuild its devastated economy.

Chrysler’s “It’s Halftime in America” Super Bowl ad, featuring 81-year-old Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood, brought these images of a rebounding Detroit to the screens of over 111 million American homes last weekend. And with the poignant portrayals of the Motor City’s residents came a huge buzz, some of it angry about the ad’s possible political undertones.

What you don’t know about this much-discussed Chrysler ad: three UT Michener Center for Writers alums penned the words that Eastwood spoke in his famously leathery voice.

Kevin Jones, MFA ’09, is now the creative director with Oregon’s Wieden+Kennedy, the advertising agency behind the ad. Jones recruited two fellow UT alums (fiction writer Smith Henderson, MFA ’09, and poet Matthew Dickman, MFA ’05) to write the commercial; the three share the copywriter credit.

The two-minute segment—which may have cost up to $14 million—never mentions Chrysler and only shows the brand’s cars once. It works for a stirring, hopeful, beyond-politics, pull-America-up-by-the-bootstraps tone, but Republicans, Democrats, and many in between have nevertheless read political implications into it.

The three UT alums are staying mum on the matter. But Eastwood—who has worked hard to stay apolitical over the years but leaned Republican when pressed—released a statement. “I am certainly not politically affiliated with Mr. Obama,” he said. “It was meant to be a message about job growth and the spirit of America.”

What do you think—is the ad political, or just a symbol of American optimism? Tell us on Twitter: @TheAlcalde.


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