SAN DIEGO - The PT Cruiser isn't a traditional car, but DaimlerChrysler will launch it with a traditional ad campaign.
The marketing campaign, scheduled to kick off at the beginning of April, is heavy on TV, magazines and outdoor advertising.
Susan Thomson, a senior manager of Chrysler brand marketing, said the PT Cruiser pages on the DaimlerChrysler Web site get more traffic than any other DaimlerChrysler site. Despite this interest, focusing too much advertising time and money on the Web is not the best way to launch a car, spokesman Dan Gliniecki said.
As hot as the Internet is for business-to-business commerce, it still is not fully embraced as a way to market products to consumers.
'Clearly, (traditional media) seem to be where the trend is headed, particularly when you are launching a vehicle,' Gliniecki said.
Instead, conventional ads will feature the Web address for the Chrysler brands' Web page. There, interested consumers can get more information on the PT Cruiser. Also available on the Web is a video commercial.'The Internet is another piece of the whole pie. We're not putting all of our eggs in the same basket,' Thomson said.
In the year and a half leading up to the retail introduction, DaimlerChrysler built a database of nearly 320,000 interested people worldwide, Thomson said. Many of them got on the list by filling out online questionnaires. Others mailed cards placed in automobile enthusiast magazines.
Most of the response came from the United States, Thomson said, and 13 percent of those who expressed interest were from California, a hotbed of import sales.
The marketing campaign will have one look wherever it is launched. It is the first time a Chrysler product has received a global marketing theme, Thomson said.
The key feature of the global push is a series of print inserts that resemble owner's manuals. The glossy pullouts discuss the PT Cruiser's versatility, highlighting such things as the car's interior.
The PT Cruiser is priced between $16,000 and $19,170, including destination charges. The car is built solely at DaimlerChrysler's assembly plant in Toluca, Mexico. Annual capacity is estimated at 180,000 vehicles.
In the United States, network TV commercials will break at the end of April, with a 60-second spot introducing the car and four 30-second spots highlighting its unusual appearance.
Other marketing efforts center on print media, with 17 pieces scheduled in national magazines. An eight-page pullout will appear May 2 in USA Today, Thomson said. She declined to say how much money is budgeted for the post-launch marketing campaign.
One nontraditional marketing stroke will be a so-called building wrap. On April 1, the outside of DaimlerChrysler's Auburn Hills, Mich., headquarters will be covered in fabric depicting a PT Cruiser bursting out from the building. The goal is to stimulate the interest of motorists along Interstate 75, a major north-south commuter artery in the Detroit area.
Later in the spring, buildings in Miami, New York, San Francisco and Chicago will be sport gigantic billboard-like images of the PT Cruiser, Thomson said.