SBD/May 9, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Chrysler, Wieden + Kennedy Think Lions' Suh Is Perfect For New Ad Campaign

When Chrysler and Wieden + Kennedy needed a Detroit athlete to star in the automaker's newest commercial, Lions DT Ndamukong Suh's "rise from humble beginnings in Northeast Portland to big-time success ... personified the message the advertising agency wanted to convey: Hard work, character, gratitude," according to Allan Brettman of the Portland OREGONIAN. The 60-second spot, "Imported from Detroit -- Homecoming," debuted last month during the opening night of the NFL Draft and shows Suh driving a "Chrysler 300 sedan through Portland as images of his childhood and hometown flash across the screen." The commercial "features slate gray skies, a spitting wind and shots of steel, concrete and urban life," making Portland look "every bit as tough as Eminem's Detroit." Wieden + Kennedy Art Dir Jimm Lasser said that "of all the people in Detroit's professional sports universe, the defensive lineman was at the top of the wish list." Lasser: "He's a rising star on the sports team. Everything I'd read about him is that he was a humble guy. He fit the profile." Brettman notes the spot was "filmed over two days in mid-March," while post-production "lasted another five days." The "only bit of acting required of Suh came in the final shot as he emerged from his car in front of his actual childhood home." Lasser: "Real house, real school, real hometown. There was a truth and honesty to it." Wieden + Kennedy "expects to soon post a how-it-was-made video about the Suh commercial on the automaker's social media sites" (Portland OREGONIAN, 5/9).

DRIVE FOR SHOW: In Detroit, Kirkland Crawford noted later this month, Suh "will participate in the Gumball 3000 -- an international race on public roads around the world -- to help promote" Ubisoft's new video game, "Driver." The race begins May 26 in London, and Suh said, "One of my good friends who plays for the Colts is going to be in there with me, Cody Glenn, so we're going to go out there and enjoy it and split the driving duty" (FREEP.com, 5/8). Suh: "Once I first heard about this, I went crazy. So now that we're in a lockout and this race is over in Europe, I love to travel so I thought this would be a great thing to do if I could get over there. Then I got the chance to work with Ubisoft, and because of their 'Driver' game coming out they decided to sponsor my trip" (ESPN.com, 5/5).
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