DETROIT -- Dodge this week will begin releasing a "rash" over the Internet as part of its marketing campaign for launching the brand in Europe.
Dodge will release three so-called viral ads on www.ramrash.com, timed to coincide with press days at the Geneva auto show. Two more ads will be released in mid-March.
The ads feature "offbeat and provocative story lines," says Nathalie Bauters, a company spokeswoman.
A "mystery rash" causes the actors to display "bold, gutsy" behavior, she says. The rash, which is imprinted on the actors' bodies, is in the shape of Dodge's ram's head logo.
Viral ads are so-named because advertisers hope Web browsers will discover the site and pass the ads along, generating a widening pool of viewers.
Joe Eberhardt, Chrysler's executive vice president of global sales and marketing, said that the ads are edgy and are designed to appeal to young Europeans.
"In terms of pushing the envelope, this is probably it," Eberhardt said. "Will it upset some people? Probably."
In one of the ads, a woman holding grocery bags appears to be delivering food to her grandmother. The older woman is moving slowly with a walker to open the door when the impatient young woman breaks down the door, flattening grandma on the floor. The so-called Ram-rash is tattooed on the young woman's arm.
In another spot, the Ram-rash appears on the derriere of a young woman clad in bra and panties. In another, the rash appears on the face of a young bride at the altar who knocks out the bridegroom and carries him down the aisle over her shoulder.
Dodge already sells the Viper SRT-10 in Europe, and the Caliber hatchback and Nitro SUV will go on sale in the next few months. The Caliber SRT-4 will be shown in Geneva.
The Chrysler group will not disclose its target for Dodge sales in Europe.
As part of the marketing tie-in to the Geneva show, buses in the city will be "wrapped" with the Dodge logo, the company said. Additionally, some riders on trains and buses will be reading fake newspapers bearing Dodge headlines on the front page, and models will walk around the city and the show with Dodge logos inked on their foreheads.
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