Sexy ad drops Concorde connection

The Chrysler brand took a sexy risk and lost.

Hardly any consumers care about the mid-sized Concorde, so Chrysler tried to sex up the advertising.

But it threw in a young girl and upset hundreds of people - enough to require a rewrite.

In the original TV spot, the mother hints to the girl that her baby sister, named Concorde, was conceived in the car. In the new version, the mother says the baby was born in Concord, Mass.

Changing the risque spot Nov. 19 was a rapid turnabout for marketing exec Jeff Bell, who told Automotive News Nov. 12, "We get negative comments on every single thing we do - every ad - and that's not exclusive for TV; it's also on print and our interactive."

The vice president of marketing communications for the Chrysler group said at that time there were no plans to change the Concorde commercial.

Bell and his team received no internal backlash for the risk and loss, said Chrysler group spokesman James Kenyon. "There were no repercussions, no 'Go stand in corner,' no 'You can't have your porridge tonight.' "

R-rated

The original spot started airing in late September in the Midwest and Northeast. The altered version continued in those areas starting Nov. 19. The commercial is not targeted at a specific type of TV program, and it's not restricted to a certain time.

The Concorde spot is just one of three Chrysler group commercials that drip of sexual connotation. One for the Chrysler Town & Country and another for the Dodge Neon R/T still are running nationally because they do not include kids in the conversations.

The Chrysler spots are especially shocking for such a conservative brand, and dealer Bill Golling of Golling Chrysler-Plymouth-Jeep in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., is unhappy. Heeven wants the altered spot removed.

"I don't fault the objective; I fault the execution," Golling said. "People are talking about the ad and not the car."

Though Chrysler officially pulled the original version of the Concorde, a dealer still could run it to promote an individual dealership at the end of the spot, said Pentamark Chairman Mike Vogel.

"I really don't know how many are still running it," he said. "I can't say that none are."

Looking for attention

Jay Kuhnie, director of Chrysler-Jeep communications, said the brand wanted to move "from what could have been considered normal advertising relative to buzz factors to put a little more edge on it so people could be thinking more about our vehicles."

The altered Concorde spot continues to air only in the Midwest and Northeast because the car sells its biggest volume in those regions.

"We knew earlier this year, from internal and external research, Concorde had a very low consideration. It was less than 1 percent," Bell said. "And so we may be at 2 percent now - at least in the Northeast and Midwest."

Concorde sales for those two regions combined totaled 1,888 in October, a 12.8 percent increase from October 2000.

Oh, those interns!

PentaMark got some of its sexually oriented ideas this summer from college interns, agency Chairman Vogel said.

The most evident use of the interns' creative work is in the TV spot for the Neon R/T, he said. It shows a man rocking back and forth in the back seat and talking to his "Sweetie" at the window as if testing the car as a place for future sex. It later becomes apparent that the man was checking out the car for his big dog.

Bad decisions on Bell's and the agency's part? Not according to their bosses at Chrysler headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich. Spokesman Kenyon said marketing chief Jim Schroer considers one of the seven principles of great leadership to be "Never be afraid to dare," so he and CEO Dieter Zetsche supported Bell's decisions.

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