High fleet sales
During a six-month period through February, the Chrysler brand topped the industry in percent of sales to fleets, with 48.5 percent of all sales going to fleets, according to Automotive News' calculations based on R.L. Polk & Co. data. The median age of Chrysler owners is 57 years old, compared with 50 for Dodge and 47 for Jeep.
The first of the ads to run features four vehicles in order to connect them in customers' minds.
Created by BBDO Detroit, a 60-second commercial, called "Technology Throughout," features the Chrysler 300, Aspen SUV and Sebring convertible and the 2008 Town & Country minivan.
The ad showcases such features as Chrysler's version of a cylinder deactivation system, which Chrysler markets as MDS (for Multi Displacement System); the MyGIG hard-drive entertainment system on the Chrysler Sebring; and the Swivel 'n Go seating system, which debuts in the Town & Country this summer.
In Mercedes' shadow
Karl Brauer, editor of the Edmunds.com Web site, said the Chrysler brand has languished because it has been in the shadow of Mercedes-Benz for nearly a decade, since Chrysler merged with Daimler-Benz.
"The brand was almost denied the opportunity to be what it could have been because the parent company didn't want to compete with what was their true upscale brand -- Mercedes-Benz," Brauer said. "That has hurt Chrysler. They almost couldn't go upscale."
Another problem the brand suffers is that for virtually every Chrysler in the showroom there's a cheaper Dodge version available, Brauer said.
The commercials are conceived to showcase Chrysler's style, design, engineering and technology. Chrysler research showed that customers were aware of the brand's reputation for trend-setting design but less aware of its technology and features.
Chrysler will even call founder Walter P. Chrysler into service by using one of his quotes to define the brand: "I gave you quality, beauty, speed, comfort, style and power, all at a low price."
The campaign also will encompass magazines, newspaper, radio and the Internet. A Yahoo home-page posting on the new Sebring convertible received 300,000 clicks on May 2.
Dave Rooney, director of Chrysler brand marketing, said research shows that Chrysler's quality is ahead of consumers' perceptions. He believes this campaign will help to bridge that gap.
Rooney described the Chrysler brand as "volume luxury." Chrysler wants customers to see its vehicles as luxurious and also as offering good value for the money.
The commercials were launched on TV series that include ABC's "Boston Legal" and "Grey's Anatomy."
You may e-mail Bradford Wernle at [email protected]