Ram launches marketing for 2013 light-duty pickup
Spots feature actor Sam Elliott, Latin musician Juanes
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DETROIT -- Chrysler Group's Ram brand has unveiled a new series of TV commercials featuring actor Sam Elliott and Latin musician Juanes that it will use to launch the re-engineered 2013 Ram 1500 pickup.
The new campaign -- entitled "Moving Heaven and Earth" -- focuses on the pickup's 25-mpg highway fuel economy rating as well as its air suspension system, which provides extra clearance for off-road use and easier vehicle entry and loading.
The first TV spots are scheduled to air Friday, Oct. 12. Chrysler would not say how much it is spending on the campaign. Chrysler marketing head Olivier Francois said the campaign spend will be representative of Chrysler's best-selling vehicle with the most potential to grow.
Production of the re-engineered pickup began last month. It features an optional Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6 engine paired with a new 8-speed automatic transmission and several aerodynamic improvements to boast the segment-best fuel economy rating.
The commercials show the stars realigning as the driver uses the truck's onboard satellite infotainment system and a hawk stopping and reversing its flight as the driver clicks the rotary dialer into reverse. Other scenes depict mountains crumbling as the Ram approaches them and vast swaths of earth falling away and the remaining land slamming together as the distance between two cities gets smaller.
Ram's marketing campaign was created by the Richards Group of Dallas and includes print, radio and digital advertising.
The new trucks are crucial for CEO Sergio Marchionne because the models are among Chrysler's most profitable. The automaker's 24 percent U.S. sales gain this year is boosting profits and offsetting losses in Europe for its majority owner, Fiat S.p.A. Ram pickup deliveries rose 20 percent through September, topping gains of 11 percent by Ford's F-Series and 0.6 percent by GM's Chevrolet Silverado.
"The pickup truck symbolizes very specific values within American culture: ethics, hard work, integrity and pride. People that drive trucks, everyday people … these heroes are to be celebrated," Francois said as Chrysler premiered the commercials this morning in downtown Detroit.
One of the spots marks gravel-voiced actor and brand spokesman Sam Elliott's first on-camera appearance on behalf of the Ram brand, saying to the camera: "The road doesn't end here. This is only the beginning."
Ram brand head Fred Diaz said the automaker also will launch a major effort to bring more Hispanic consumers to the pickup line with the new truck, using 17-time Latin Grammy winner Juanes to deliver the brand's message to Spanish-speaking consumers.
Diaz said that so far this year, 17 percent of Ram's sales were to Hispanic consumers, up 1.3 percentage points from the year before. He said it is important for Ram to use a familiar face to carry its language to Spanish-speaking consumers, instead of just voicing over English-language commercials.
"If you do it wrong, the Hispanic culture will see right through it," Diaz said.
Chrysler also is creating a new Ram Commercial division within its Ram truck brand aimed at fleet buyers and small businesses as it introduces new heavy-duty pickups next year. Diaz said last month that the heavy-duty pickups will have best-in-class towing capabilities, which will be detailed along with pricing in January at the Detroit auto show.
Diaz has said Chrysler is considering added production of its Ram pickups. The automaker assembles the Ram 1500 at a Warren, Mich., plant that operates on two shifts.
Chrysler sped up the line rate at its heavy-duty truck plant in Saltillo, Mexico, in August, Mike Cairns, head of Ram truck engineering, said last month. Jodi Tinson, a company spokeswoman, declined to say how many additional trucks will be built as a result of the move.
Diaz and Francois said the new marketing campaigns are designed to lure loyal customers of competitive pickups to visit a Chrysler Group dealership and consider a Ram. The brand plans a number of initiatives, including test tracks at auto shows and other events, to get consumers to drive the new 1500 pickup.
Said Diaz: "We know that if we can get the butts in the seats, if we can get them into our trucks, we can get them sold."
Bloomberg contributed to this report.
You can reach Larry P. Vellequette at email@example.com.