Despite some early, unfriendly criticism of the "Dr. Z" ad campaign, it seems to be picking up steam. Adding the Internet connection to the radio and TV commercials has tied it together and broadened the reach.
Anecdotally, people outside the industry tell me they like it -- even if they originally were unaware of Zetsche or that he is CEO of a large automaker. That's good news for the Chrysler group, which can use the boost as it tries to move a lot more iron.
But it could be news of a different sort for corporate parent DaimlerChrysler AG, which could end up with a union member on the board of management if the campaign is too successful.
That's right. If the campaign is so successful that Chrysler decides to reprise the Dr. Z character in another series of commercials, Zetsche likely will need to join the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
He got a pass the first time because doing commercials isn't part of his job description. But if he continues to do the commercials, his de facto job description changes, and Zetsche might need to join both the guild and AFTRA.
Under Germany's corporate co-determination policies, employees and unions are represented on a company's supervisory board, which oversees and advises the company's management team, but not on the board of management, which runs the company's day-to-day operations.
Still, it's hard to imagine Dr. Z carrying a picket sign, singing "Solidarity Forever" or refusing to cross a UAW picket line, though that might offer some interesting creative opportunities for the next series of commercials.
Don't panic: It isn't likely to affect the DaimlerChrysler board of management too much if the CEO is a card-carrying member of SAG and AFTRA.
But it might make a dandy bar bet.
You may e-mail Edward Lapham at [email protected]