Wendi Parson at the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference

Wendi Parson, MA Decorative Arts and Design Program student, will present a paper entitled “Chrysler’s ‘Imported from Detroit:’ The Story of a Car, a Company and a City” at the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference to be held in Boston from April 11-14, 2012.

The PCA/ACA has held national meetings for more than 40 years in major cities throughout the U.S. and Canada. The conference generally attracts 2,500 scholars, teachers, professionals, and enthusiasts, representing a wide range of cultural studies interests, including: Advertising, Automobile Culture, Fashion, Style & Appearance, Film, Literature, Popular Art, Architecture & Design, and Visual Culture.

An abstract for Parson’s paper, to be presented as part of the conference’s Automobile, Community, and Society session, follows.

Chrysler’s “Imported from Detroit:” The Story of a Car, a Company and a City

Embedded within the innovative advertising campaign for the new Chrysler 200 is an intricately crafted appeal for a car, a company and a city – all of which are inextricably linked. Launched with a two-minute commercial broadcast during 2011’s Super Bowl XLV starring rapper Eminem at the wheel of the midsize sedan, the campaign introduces a new tagline for the Chrysler brand: “Imported from Detroit.” The commercial and its print counterparts subvert conventional representations of automobiles in advertising, which evoke power, performance and speed. Instead, through the appropriation of historic, economic and cultural symbols of Detroit, the campaign positions the Chrysler 200 as a vehicle to sell the city synonymous with automobile production. “Imported” also challenges traditional notions of luxury goods originating overseas and proffers a new “homegrown” luxury for American consumers.

The federal government’s intervention to rescue ailing automakers forms a pivotal subtext of the campaign. The mid-2000s ushered in a severe industry downturn that left Detroit’s automakers teetering on the brink of collapse. Dire economic conditions and hemorrhaging balance sheets prompted the former Big Three to lobby the government for billions in emergency aid during the final days of President George W. Bush’s administration. Subsequently, President Barack Obama augmented the government’s stakes in Chrysler and General Motors, making shareholders of the U.S. taxpayers. Now, with sales rebounding and profits turning, the Chrysler 200 has emerged as an emblem of a resurgent automotive industry and, possibly a resurgent Motor City. “Imported from Detroit” tells the story.

For more information, visit: www.pcaaca.org.



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