DETROIT -- A new advertising campaign this spring for the 2010 Ram Heavy Duty pickup features the deep, resonant voice of actor Sam Elliott and celebrates the Dodge-like manly American pickup virtues of toughness, utility and durability.
But nowhere in the campaign is the word "Dodge" to be found.
That's just as Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne wants it. Marchionne is trying to rebuild Chrysler Group around strong brand identities. Last year he decreed that the Ram brand would be separate from Dodge in the same way Fiat and Fiat Professional are separate brands in Europe.
Marchionne said the change will give Dodge more room to establish an identity as a car, minivan and crossover brand while the Ram brand can increase its recreational and commercial truck business.
Skeptics have argued that Chrysler is weakening an icon by divorcing Dodge and the Ram pickup. American truck buyers long have chosen among Ford, Chevy and Dodge, they argue, and Chrysler is throwing away decades of brand equity.