Love connection

Chrysler brand campaign aims for the heartstrings

Where Chrysler expects to find love
Here's how Chrysler's new brand campaign will shake out.
  • Four spots on TV, including during National Football League coverage, college football coverage on ABC, and programs "Today," "The West Wing," "Spin City" and "That '70s Show"
  • One 6-page or one 3-page ad in magazines such as Men's Journal, Food & Wine, Architectural Digest and Marie Claire
  • Event programs, including pumped-up versions of the Chrysler Showcase and Chrysler Proving Grounds test-track events

  • The Chrysler brand is lookin' for love.

    That is, it wants to connect emotionally with consumers who love to drive.

    Chrysler's brand advertising campaign, which broke Monday, Sept. 10, and will run through next year, features the new tag line "Drive=Love" and will star the popular Chrysler PT Cruiser.

    The line replaces "Engineered to be great cars," which was dropped two years ago after a run of four years, said Tom Marinelli, vice president of the Chrysler-Jeep Global Brand Center.

    The multimedia campaign is just one-third of the Chrysler group's effort to reinvent its brands and attract younger buyers. Dodge recently adopted a new tag line, "Grab life by the horns" and traded in spokesman Edward Herrmann for rock band Aerosmith. And though Chrysler group execs say Jeep will not get a new tag line, the brand will get additional marketing attention.

    Jerry Bowman, chairman of Chrysler's national dealer council, said the brand was overdue for a campaign.

    "I don't think, with Chrysler itself, we've had a real identity," he said. "The sad thing about Chrysler is anything negative that happens in the Chrysler company affects the Chrysler brand. This theme line will give us our own identity."

    Passion play

    The campaign, starring the PT Cruiser, is aimed at 18- to 49-year-olds, down from the previous target of 25- to 54-year-olds, said Mark Snethkamp, president of the Detroit Metropolitan Chrysler-Jeep Dealer Advertising Association.

    Early next month, dealer ad associations will get new individual nameplate advertising across the lineup that follows the "Drive=Love" theme, Snethkamp said.

    Automotive analyst Doug Scott complimented Chrysler's focus on the PT.

    "Chrysler is smart to use the PT Cruiser to say, 'Hey, this is a brand of passion and innovation, and whatever characteristics PT Cruiser drivers have, that's really what everyone wants,' " said Scott, president of West Coast operations for Allison-Fisher International, an automotive market research tracker.

    The Chrysler brand campaign addresses different forms of love, including love at first sight, true love and the power of love. Marinelli said that the new tag line is somewhat over the top but explained that's why his ad agency, PentaMark Worldwide, is using humor in TV spots to deliver the message it created. "There's a little tongue-in-cheek there, a little bit of fun, some levity," he said.

    Model mayor

    In addition to traditional advertising, Chrysler will pump up its event programs such as Chrysler Showcase and Chrysler Proving Grounds to further promote its brand image. Chrysler Showcase is a traveling product display that is set up in shopping malls and other locations. Chrysler will have about 60 showcases this year, Marinelli said, which is up slightly from last year, and about 20 test-track events as part of the Chrysler Proving Grounds program.

    In addition, Chrysler next year will run programs for each of its nameplates, similar to Dodge's "Truckville" for the Ram, said Robin Austin, chief creative officer of Fusion 5 in Westport, Conn.

    Chrysler group's brand marketing consultant. Truckville is Ram training for dealers and consumers in a family setting. Using the theme of a truck village, with the Ram as mayor, Truckville includes ride and drives and competition pitting the Ram against other full-sized trucks. Sources say Dodge is spending $350 million on the Truckville program.

    The Chrysler brand spent $455 million in measured media last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting. And although Marinelli would not disclose how much Chrysler is spending on the new campaign, he did say: "It's certainly bigger than any brand campaign we've done. We put a good majority of our advertising dollars in September and the fourth quarter behind it."

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