Chrysler LLC is embarking on a new advertising effort to try and drum up showroom traffic for a flock of cars that mostly have not been met with enthusiasm from consumers or the media.
It’s the first major effort from the automaker since Cerberus Capital acquired a controlling stake in the company from DaimlerChrysler. The ads, which break next week, are themed, “If You Can Dream It. We Can Build It.” It is said, by sources, to be a corporate effort that will touch Chrysler’s three brands—Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep.
The idea, says a dealer who has seen the work, is to convey that Chrysler designs vehicles around the needs of consumers, and that it is a company that listens. In one ad for the new Dodge Journey SUV (pictured above) the utility vehicle emerges from a garage as a chassis, and gets assembled as it rolls down a street, bit by bit from having listened to what customers want.
Chrysler will unveil the campaign to media on Monday, April 8. According to the dealer who saw some of the work, “It’s nicely done, but what we need is stuff that will really put boots in the showroom and drive traffic to our websites.”
Chrysler LLC’s sales were down almost 20% in March, owing to some substantiala declines in production and fleet sales, and almost 16% for the first quarter. Especially hard hit have been Dodge Ram, big SUVs, such as Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee, and the minivan business. Too, Chrysler has been beset by poor reception in the media and in J.D. Power rankings for new vehicles like the Chrysler Sebring, Dodge Nitro and Dodge Avenger. The company has high hopes for the Journey.
On the upside, the company’s small crossovers—Dodge Caliber, Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot—are collectively up 51%, and selling decently in Europe as well as the U.S.
It is the first time Chrysler has really tried a corporate wide ad effort since the ill-fated “Dr. Z” ads, featuring former CEO Dieter Zetsche, which ran in 2006. That effort was designed to remind people of the German roots of Chrysler’s new vehicles. This new campaign tries to play on Chrysler’s strength of emotional designs and customer-friendly features.
The campaign, developed by BBDO, was directed at the company by chief marketing officer Deborah Walh-Meyer, who was recruited to Chrysler last Fall by Cerberus from Toyota.
Chrysler this week kicked off a website, www.chryslerlistens.com, as a listening post for suggestions, and from which it will recruit some 2,000 people willing to participate online once or twice weekly. According to Ad Age, the project will enable Chrysler to break down the recruits into categories such as sex, vehicle brand or vehicle-type ownership.