DETROIT -- Dodge, moving to entice car shoppers as industry sales recover, plans a major marketing push early next year that will include advertising during the Super Bowl broadcast on Feb. 6, 2011.
Dodge CEO Ralph Gilles notified dealers of the advertising plan in an e-mail Tuesday that urged them to order their allocations of 2011 vehicles.
“I am grateful for your orders on Durango and Charger. However, we could use some extra love on Caravan, Avenger and mostly the Journey,” Gilles wrote in an e-mail obtained by Automotive News.
Gilles said Dodge would “launch marketing very early in Q1, including Super Bowl presence, with heavy Tier 1 multimedia spending. Tier 2 will also increase based on our increased volume. We also will initiate comprehensive digital campaigns aimed at conquest customers.
“Our plan effectively relaunches these vehicles and will get curious shoppers back in your showrooms,” Gilles said.
Dodge is launching six new or revamped vehicles in 2011 -- more than any of Chrysler's other brands. The brand's U.S. sales are up 20 percent this year through November to 351,285 units.
The Durango SUV is new, and the Charger and Challenger are re-engineered and restyled. The Grand Caravan, Avenger and Journey also received significant modifications. The vehicles are supposed to arrive in dealerships this month, with volume launches taking place in the first quarter.
Dodge returned to the Super Bowl this year after a five year absence. That spot, called “Man's Last Stand,” showed a sequence of resentful-looking men vowing to do various tasks, presumably for their wives, in exchange for driving the manly car they want -- the Dodge Charger. The ads featured the voice of actor Michael C. Hall, star of the Showtime network series “Dexter.”
The commercials, by Dodge agency Wieden + Kennedy of Nike fame, received a lot of attention. The ad even prompted a parody from a woman's group, which produced a clip called “Woman's Last Stand.”
Rick Deneau, a spokesman for Chrysler Group, declined to comment further on Dodge's Super Bowl advertising plans.
In the memo to dealers, Gilles also said Dodge has been working with ALG (formerly Automotive Lease Guide) “to maximize our residual values.”
“Our plan is to provide very competitive lease payments on key models,” he wrote. “We should be able to start publishing our residuals and comprehensive lease programs at the beginning of January.”
Gilles said in a recent interview that he wants to increase the Dodge brand's leasing penetration.
With less than 5 percent of transactions currently leases, Dodge isn't a major factor in the lease market. That needs to change, Gilles said.
“I want to be around 10 to 15 percent lease,” he said. “I want to be where the rest of the industry is.” Two vehicles, the Durango Citadel and Journey Lux, are being tailored specifically to lease customers.