A $1 million donation to fight breast cancer. Short films. Video games.
Ring tones that cell phone users can download. Wireless streaming messages to personal digital assistants. A year of free car insurance.
All are examples of alternative marketing that automakers are allocating more of their marketing budgets to - some as much as 10 percent more this year. Marketing executives say nontraditional events and programs often provide cheaper and more efficient ways to reach targeted customers than mass-market broadcast and print ads.
"We are moving money as quickly as we can from mass-market media to any medium where we can have a two-way dialogue with the customer," says George Murphy, senior vice president of global marketing for DaimlerChrysler.
"Having a TV ad that doesn't require you to do anything, or a print ad in a magazine, is a one-way form of entertainment," Murphy says. "We're getting away from that."
The Chrysler group typically has allocated 75 percent of its annual marketing budget to TV and print. "You won't see that from us now," says Julie Roehm, Chrysler group director of marketing communications. "It'll be a more balanced mix."
Last month, the Chrysler group built a half-mile road course at the Chicago Auto Show to encourage people to test drive its vehicles. The automaker would not disclose the cost of the course.
"Once we get people into our cars, they buy them," Murphy says.
The Chrysler group also is affiliated with video game makers to get images of its vehicles into games that appeal to young men.