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Chrysler Ad Becomes Political Football

Stocks in this article: GM

DETROIT MainStreet) -- Who would have thought that, as the result of a compelling Super Bowl ad featuring an iconic actor, Chrysler would become a political punching bag?

Surprisingly, after the automaker somehow managed to follow the most talked-about ad of the 2011 Super Bowl by making the most talked-about ad of the 2012 Super Bowl, that is what happened, as some Republicans attacked the ad as promoting President Barack Obama's re-election campaign.

An ad featuring Clint Eastwood thrust Chrysler into the world of bitter politics.

"People are always going to spin things for their own benefit," said Rebecca Lindland, director of research for IHS Automotive. "It is absolutely an unintended consequence. But there are often unintended consequences in the world of politics."

"What's so fascinating about it is that peoples' perceptions vary so dramatically," Lindland said. "There are people who will never buy a Chrysler product and people who will only buy a Chrysler product. It's the people in the middle: Does this sway them one way or the other?"

Perhaps someone at GM (GM) might have seen this coming. GM developed the car of the future, one intended to diminish our reliance on oil, something it would seem we can all agree on, and has been roundly attacked as a creature of the Obama administration.

"We engineered Volt to show the world what great vehicles we make at General Motors," GM CEO Dan Akerson told a House subcommittee last month. "Unfortunately, there is one thing we did not engineer. Although we loaded the Volt with state-of-the-art safety features -- we did not engineer the Volt to be a political punching bag."

"And that, sadly, is what it's become."

In the Chrysler "Halftime in America" commercial, Clint Eastwood proclaims that the U.S. should take a lesson from Detroit, which toughed it out and emerged stronger after the recession.

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