Dodge is developing a second viral advertising campaign in an attempt to build on the success of its first effort earlier this year.
The Chrysler group brand used the initial campaign to create buzz for its expansion in Europe. But it has attracted attention in the United States as well, Dodge officials say.
Viral campaigns encourage consumers to pass along marketing messages embedded in online short films, e-mail communications or special events.
As in the Dodge campaign, the identity of the advertiser and its products is often obscured. Viral ads also tend to be edgier than traditional advertising.
For its first campaign, Dodge created a Web site, ramrash.com, that displays six short films. Five of the ads show no vehicles. The closest they come to identifying their sponsor is the depiction of a skin rash that resembles Dodge's ram's-head logo. Actors in the spots engage in ram-style head-butting.
One spot shows a young woman, clad in bra and panties, moisturizing her legs. The Web site calls her activities "a pre-mating ritual." To express her annoyance at knocking a bottle of lotion to the floor, she head-butts the bathroom sink.
The spot has gotten 90,000 hits on the Web site youtube.com, which streams millions of videos. That response shows the appeal of the campaign, says Eric Labourier, Dodge's senior manager of international marketing.
"Our key target for Dodge's new products is very Internet-oriented and receptive to this kind of media," Labourier told Automotive News. "Right from the beginning, these (spots) were intended to be viral."
Besides promoting the brand, Dodge linked the first viral campaign to the introduction of the Caliber in Europe.
The car's target European market consists primarily of men in their 30s, Labourier says. Such consumers tend to be heavy Internet users, he says.
Dodge is tying the second viral campaign to other European launches. The company is brainstorming proposals for the next campaign, which will have the same tone as the first, Labourier says.
He declined to disclose Dodge's budget for the viral campaigns. But he says the outlay is much less than for traditional TV commercials.
Ramrash.com has attracted 330,000 unique visits. About 8 percent came from the United States, Labourier says.
But those visits represent only a small share of people who have seen the spots, he says. Many more have seen them via e-mail and on such sites as youtube.com and myspace.com, he says.
The campaign also has gotten coverage on automotive and advertising blogs, Labourier says. Dodge is compiling data on how many visitors to ramrash.com clicked through to the brand's corporate Web sites in various countries, he says.
"I had friends calling from Europe, asking me if I was aware of the video ads," Labourier says. "They didn't know I was doing them. It shows how quickly this spreads to a broad audience."
You may e-mail Mary Connelly at [email protected]