Unless you have been on vacation outside the country, you are well-aware of the onslaught of Chrysler group TV commercials starring the DaimlerChrysler CEO, forever after referred to as "Dr. Z" -- perhaps as a nostalgic reference to the well-liked longtime head of Datsun, "Mr. K."
The commercials feature Dieter Zetsche in a very un-German style that strongly stresses the relationship Chrysler has with an as-yet-unnamed German company.
Several of the spots certainly ought to make Zetsche a household name in America. He does his job with humor and self-deprecation, which makes him a rather likable CEO, but very German.
It's obvious that DaimlerChrysler has decided that there is value in letting American consumers realize that this is a German company.
Meanwhile on the West Coast of the United States, another company -- Toyota -- is spending heavily to point out to anyone who watches its advertising that it is very much an American company.
Although everyone knows it's owned by a Japanese company, Toyota Motor North America has decided that it's important to demonstrate just how much it has invested to become part of American society.
It's interesting that those two auto companies, among the top four in the world, are using such different approaches to market their corporate images in this country.
It is intriguing that a longtime American company, now owned by a German corporation, wants to downplay its Americanism after nearly a century.
The company feels it's important to let the customer realize that Chrysler now has strong German connections - something Dieter Zetsche is doing in a very lighthearted manner.
Toyota, a fixture on the American scene for far less time, is using the opposite tack, wanting to demonstrate strongly the Americanization of the company. Certainly the promotion of Jim Press, its highest-ranking American, does a great deal to solidify that position.
I don't know which approach will be more effective, but I would worry that they will cancel each other and leave the consumer wondering about both.
Time will tell.
As always, it's fun to watch.