Downplaying the high-tech image it had sought for the Intrepid, Dodge has new advertising that is designed to appeal to prospects' emo-tions.
Dodge altered positioning for the Intrepid and other 2000 models in advertising that breaks to-day, Oct. 4, on national network and cable TV. The commercials follow the image campaign, 'Dodge. Different,' which broke in August.
One new TV spot for the Intrepid ES salutes the standard AutoStick, which allows a driver to operate in either the manual or automatic transmission mode. It shows a montage of images of work, including a time clock. Then, actor Edward Herr-mann narrates: 'Time to work a different shift.'
It is one of five Intrepid spots planned for the 2000 model year. Two of them arrive next spring for the new high-performance R/T model.
BBDO Worldwide's Southfield, Mich., office will create 57 new TV spots for the 2000 model year, the division's biggest body of work. It had 24 in the 1999 model year.
Dodge took a different approach in unveiling the spots. Rather than the factory debuting new product advertising nationally, Dodge dealer ad groups got the ball rolling on TV in a few regions two weeks ago.
In 1992, Dodge persuaded the dealer ad groups to start using national commercials. The goal was to increase media exposure for 'The New Dodge,' which coincided with the division's product revitalization. Since then, the dealer associations have increased the use of national spots.
'You can't tell the difference between dealer and national (TV) ads because of the very positive, progressive relationship we've developed with dealers,' said Jim Yetter, Dodge's car and truck communications manager.
BBDO can add pricing, special lease rates or other incentives to the national commercials for the dealer associations as needed.
'The number of new commercials is wildly huge because we wanted to anticipate all dealer needs as well as all the (product) positioning we wanted to do,' said Dick Johnson, chairman and chief creative officer of BBDO in Southfield.
Dealer Pat Fitzgibbons in the Chicago suburb of South Holland, Ill., said BBDO's stockpile of commercials saves the dealer associations money because they don't have to produce their own spots. Before the change, his association produced five to seven spots a year, each costing about $125,000.
The eight-member executive board of dealers, which Fitzgibbons left when his term expired in September, meets with BBDO and Dodge engineers and managers in the early stages of ad development. The panel sees BBDO's storyboards, which tell the tale of a commercial before it is produced. The board's input is considered, he said.
The dealer groups for Chrysler, Plymouth and Jeep still have their own regional commercials, developed by the brands' national agency, FCB Worldwide's Southfield, Mich., office.
TESTING A BRIDGE
Every new Dodge product spot starts with the word 'Different' on the screen and ends with the new tag and divisional ram's head logo. Tongue-in-cheek humor accompanies Dodge's simple wordplay.
A new Neon spot touts 'the tons' of standard goodies, which test a bridge's weight limits. The 2000 Neon was introduced in March in commercials that touted both its Plymouth and Dodge names and emphasized attitude rather than product attributes. 'We had to bring Neon into the (Dodge) fold,' Yetter said.
In a Durango commercial, Herrmann calls the sport-utility 'just the right size ... between the toys and the tanks.' In another, he rolls around under the sport-utility on a creeper, which he then takes for a joy ride.
The Ram pickup spot depicts an insomniac counting sheep. Narrates Herrmann: 'For those who must design trucks to compete with Dodge Ram, there is no rest.'