Muddy Waters and What’s Wrong With The New Chrysler 300 Commerical

November 22, 2011

The folks at Wieden+Kennedy have done it again. The Portland, OR-based full services advertising firm created yet another strong commercial for the Chrysler 300. They’re the same folks behind the successful Chrysler ad featuring Eminem and can be credited with helping the now surging automaker appear hip and relevant at a time when, only a year earlier, Chrysler had one foot in the grave.

For that, Wieden+Kennedy deserves a pat on the back. I remember reporting on the news that Chrysler was eventually going to feature Ndamukong Suh in one of their commercials and that day has finally arrived. But the folks at Wieden+Kennedy are always getting things 95% right.

They were smart enough to get the athlete seen as the face of the city in the commercial, and they were even historically wise enough to feature a poem from former Michigan laureate and one time Detroit Free Press writer Edgar Albert Guest in the ad spot as well. Solid so far, right? But then they go ahead and mess it up by having Muddy Waters singing throughout the commercial. He’s most famous for crafting the sound known as the Chicago blues. Chicago? And they ran the ad right after the Chicago Bears just walloped our Detroit Lions. Seriously?

Call me nit-picky if you want. But considering our two cities don’t get along right now, and our two football teams definitely don’t get along and the fact that there was a petition which just circulated the globe full of Michiganders demanding a hometown music act perform at half time of the Thanksgiving game instead of Nickelback, Wieden+Kennedy would have been smart to switch out blues legend Muddy Waters for an even more popular blues legend, the enigmatic John Lee Hooker. Hooker spent decades in Detroit and raised his family in the city.

Hooker became famous in Detroit after moving here from Mississippi to work on the assembly line. Where did he work? Yup, you don’t even have to guess: Chrysler. How do you miss that? Anyone who knows blues music associates Hooker with Detroit. That’s one thing, but the man worked on a damn assembly line! They chose Muddy Waters? Really? It’s fair to say that Wieden+Kennedy is still getting it 95% right with their mostly spot on commercials yet clearly missed out with their music choice this time around. Unless someone can tell me that Hooker’s family and estate wouldn’t clear the music for Chrysler to use and Muddy Waters was plan B, I’m looking sideways at whoever chose a Chicago blues man over a Detroit blues legend.

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  • HubertGAM

    Interesting. If this is drumming up controversy, then I almost wonder if it’s by design. Tastes kind of slimy.

  • Pingback: Detroit blogger picks up Wieden+Kennedy for Muddy Waters Chrysler 300 music choice | MAA

  • Bluesman

    I’m sorry sir, but Muddy Waters is THE most popular blues artist. John Lee Hooker was a great bluesman in his own right, but he couldn’t hold a tune (his band would always make the changes according to how Hooker sang it).

    Muddy’s accolades are far too great for such petty issues as city rivalry. 

  • Anna

    Wieden+Kennedy definitely messed up here. There’s no other way to look at it.

  • Aaron Cunningham

    Does anyone in the world think of Detroit and Chicago as having a rivalry in any context other than sports?  Is anyone in the world outside of Detroit or Chicago who might see this commercial going to experience any level cognitive dissonance from hearing Muddy Waters in a Chrysler commercial?

  • Aaron Cunningham

    No.  And no.