The Chrysler brand is throwing a party in Cleveland next week, and it expects 6,000 of its closest friends to attend.
Chrysler is hosting its fourth annual Block Party on July 9 along the city's waterfront. Lou Bitonti, senior manager of brand events for Chrysler and Jeep, says the party will enable Chrysler owners and their friends and relatives to see and drive new Chrysler vehicles.
The event also helps the company strengthen relations with customers who might be tempted to leave the brand, Bitonti says.
"It costs five times the amount of money to lose customers and try to win them back" as to keep them, Bitonti says. "Our whole point is, why lose them in the first place?"
"If your needs have changed from a Sebring convertible to a minivan, we've got it," he says. "If you have a minivan, and now you're interested in a four-door sedan, try the 300C. We want you to feel you've bought more than just a vehicle, you've bought a brand."
Bitonti says Chrysler invited 150,000 new and longtime owners who live within 300 miles of Cleveland. Partygoers will be charged $95 per vehicle to attend the day-long event.
About 70 percent of adults who attend the party will get behind the wheel of at least one of the 65 Chrysler vehicles available for test drives, Bitonti estimates. Chrysler will offer them $1,000 toward the purchase of a new vehicle, in addition to existing consumer incentives, he adds.
Bitonti would not predict how many partygoers who take a test drive will buy a car or truck. But he says that if past Block Parties and similar events had not stimulated sales, "I wouldn't be doing the program again."
Previous Block Parties were held in Los Angeles and twice in Chicago.
The charge to attend the party covers admission to Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and Great Lakes Science Center, Bitonti says. It also includes a concert by the Funk Brothers, the Motown Records studio band that accompanied Detroit singing legends such as The Temptations, The Supremes and Marvin Gaye.
Cleveland area Chrysler dealers are advertising the party and giving away tickets to buyers of new vehicles.
Chrysler has invited members of 75 PT Cruiser enthusiast clubs to the event, Bitonti adds. He expects those owners to be especially excited about a customizing exhibit at the party.
"The PT Cruiser people are passionate about their cars," Bitonti says. "They've been coming every year."
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