DETROIT -- Chrysler Group's chief marketing officer says the automaker's "Farmer" campaign launched during the 2013 Super Bowl is boosting Ram consideration among prospective pickup buyers.
The commercial, which features a speech from the late radio broadcaster Paul Harvey and kicks off a yearlong campaign to spotlight farmers, is resonating in the highly competitive pickup segment.
"Brand loyalty is huge in the pickup market. People buy the same brands not just for a lifetime but for generations, which is why I pitched the 'Farmer' commercial," said Olivier Francois, 51, chief marketing officer for both Chrysler and Fiat S.p.A. "We were all convinced that we have a superior truck, but it has to have a little bit of soul. It has to speak with the heart."
Ram's re-engineered 2013 1500 light-duty pickup began arriving in dealerships late last fall. It paired a 3.6-liter V-6 engine with an eight-speed automatic transmission to achieve highway fuel economy of up to 25 mpg, the highest in the segment.
Sales of Ram pickups climbed 3 percent in February and 26 percent in March over 2012 in the two months after the Super Bowl spot was broadcast. Through April 1, Ram pickup sales were up 15 percent year-over-year in the United States, to 77,594 units.
Francois said the spot and follow-up actions by Chrysler to mark what it calls "the year of the farmer" are convincing Ford, GM, Toyota, and Nissan customers to take another look at the Ram. Chrysler has so far donated $1 million to the National FFA Organization.
"I receive letters every day from loyal customers of the competition thanking us for doing that spot and saying that they are considering the Ram," Francois said.
Chrysler Group was named Marketer of the Year in 2012 by Advertising Age, a sibling publication of Automotive News, because of the strong sales recovery that followed the company's marketing campaigns.
Francois said marketing, especially in the pickup segment, can't just focus on vehicle attributes.
"From time to time I think we need a little bit of a strong message to shake brand loyalty," Francois said.
Francois also said the Chrysler brand remains committed to its "Imported from Detroit" tag line.