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Chrysler Is Naming New Ad Agencies for Brand Makeovers

Chrysler LLC is down to choosing ad agencies for its brand restructuring: reportedly choosing a Texas agency to handle Ram truck business.

The automaker, now partly owned by Italian automaker Fiat, which is also responsible for managing the company following its Chapter 11 filing and government bailout, has served notice on long time ad agency BBDO.

The Richards Group of Dallas, whose last car account was Hyundai, according to trade publicattion Ad Age, will handle Ram truck. According to one high-ranking Chrysler official, though, that assignment is not finalized.

Chrysler is embarking on a questionable strategy of breaking the Ram pickup truck off to be its own brand. At some point in the near future, Ram will cease to carry the Dodge brand. Fiat, then, will in future years, roll other trucks and commercial vehicles into the Ram brand.

BBDO was able to secure an assignment to handle Chrysler brand advertising through the 4th quarter, playing up Chrysler 300 and Town & Country minivan in ads, according to sources. But Chrysler is expected to name another agency to handle Chrysler brand after that, positioning the brand for the future.

The agencies contending for Chrysler?? assignments, which also includes the Dodge brand include: Publicis Groupe?? Publicis & Hal Riney (one-time Saturn agency), San Francisco; sibling Fallon, Minneapolis (former BMW agency); Omnicom?? Cutwater, San Francisco (former Jeep agency); and MDC Partners?Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Miami (former Volkswagen agency).

Still to be heard: which agency will handle Dodge, as well as Chrysler on a long term basis. It is possible that BBDO could retain the Chrysler brand, having scored the fourth-quarter assignment.

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, who has final say over the agencies chosen, was not even present for the pitches. Chrysler executives took video, storyboards and other material to Marchionne after they had reviewed the work.

Dodge is meant to be positioned as “Modern American Performance,” while the plans for Chrysler brand are to take the nameplate into Cadillac and Lincoln territory over time both with product and pricing. Ram truck positioning is expected to push Ram as a truck for people who play hard. Statistics show that a huge percentage of Ram owners use their truck to tow all-terrain-vehicles, snowmobiles, Waverunners, etc., as well as to carry canoes, kayaks and the like.

Ford and Chevy seem to have the “work truck” positioning sewn up, so Chrysler is going to a “sporty” truck brand strategy.

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