DETROIT - Jim Schroer, Chrysler group's new marketing chief, has his work cut out for him.
He must erase the group's red ink despite high incentives and a tightened media budget. Schroer, 49, was hired more than three weeks ago from Ford Motor Co., where he was vice president of global marketing.
'We will hit our turnaround numbers,' he said. 'I've never missed a volume, profit or cost target in my career. I have never missed a budget, and I don't plan on starting here.'
To do that, he plans to drop national incentives in favor of regional incentives, market the Chrysler brand under a new theme and forbid dealers from fire-sale advertising without including a brand message.
Here are highlights of his campaign to boost sales and improve marketing at the Chrysler group:
Incentives will be determined regionally for all Chrysler group products, rather than nationally, Schroer said.
'You're going to need more incentives in some places, less incentives in others,' he said.
For example, the Dodge Ram is more popular in Texas than it is in Washington. Chrysler needs to better manage data from dealers to determine where those incentives should go, he said.
Thomas Barenboim, secretary of the executive committee for Chrysler-Jeep dealer advertising, says dealer advertising associations can help.
'I support 100 percent going with regional incentives,' said Barenboim, owner of Clark Chrysler-Plymouth-Jeep in Methuen, Mass. 'There are so many efficiencies by doing more targeted marketing.'
Schroer soon will introduce a Chrysler brand campaign with the theme 'the art of engineering.' That means, 'It's drop-dead gorgeous, the engineering functional,' he said.
The art of engineering won't necessarily become the brand's tag line. The Cadillac and Jaguar brands already use art in their tag lines.
The Jeep brand will maintain its tag line, 'There's only one.'
Schroer declined to comment on Dodge until closer to the new Ram launch in the fall.
Chrysler group also will begin to tout product quality and features.
Schroer already had a video shot to communicate the message internally: 'Aspirational, quality products are the foundation of our brand house.'
The aspirational side of Chrysler is fine, he said. 'However, we don't have the quality-reliability reputation that we need.'
He explains the message with a building metaphor that could end up in each brand's advertising: The Chrysler brand is like the Chrysler Building in New York; the Dodge brand is the Sears Tower in Chicago; and the Jeep brand is the Pentagon in Washington.
'All share the same foundation,' Schroer said. 'Those buildings wouldn't be worth a darn, and you'd probably have to have some serious incentives to sell them, if that foundation leaked. That's what quality is: It's the foundation of the brand house.'
Why those buildings? Schroer chose the Chrysler building because 'even 80 years later, it's still stylish.'
The Sears Tower is 'bold, powerful, capable, functional, gets the job done,' he said. 'That's a Dodge.'
The Pentagon is 'the symbol of American freedom in the free world,' he said, and Jeep is 'the power of American freedom.'
And then there's the corporate brand. While at Ford, Schroer created the 'Trustmark' program, which is intended to build trust in the company. He won't re-create that at Chrysler.
`A global trustmark'
'We're not going to use Chrysler group as a trust mark,' Schroer said. 'DaimlerChrysler is the global trust mark for this corporation, but I don't think you're going to see us spend a lot of money on advertising DaimlerChrysler.'
Instead, he said, he will put pride into Chrysler group advertising.
'When we're just saying we're cool and we're saying there's a deal, that doesn't engender as much pride as we need to develop,' he said.
Schroer wants the factory and dealers to promote the brand, pride and incentives. Dealers no longer will be allowed to run fire-sale advertising without some brand message.
'Where you run event promotions with the dealers and you advertise. `Come see the Dodges at the Charlotte Motor Speedway,' that gets people into the store as a positive statement about the Dodge brand,' he said.
'And then you can take the last 10 seconds of the commercial and say, `Oh, by the way, we've got 0.9 percent (loans).' '
Schroer also said he has no plans to restructure the dealer advertising associations: 38 Dodge and 25 Chrysler-Jeep.
The executive committee for Dodge dealer advertising supports Schroer's strategy, said Vice Chairman Terry Tobey.
'We got away from saying we've got great products with great features, along with a great deal,' said Tobey of Key Dodge in Xenia, Ohio.
'This will give us a bigger share of voice and the DAAs still have say in what we run in our local areas.'
Each dealer contributes 1 percent to 2 percent of a vehicle's invoice price, depending on the region, and the Chrysler group contributes 1 percent of the vehicle's invoice price to the associations.