Move over, Ron Burgundy. Chrysler Group's Dodge brand has a new viral video sensation.
It features not the buffoonery of a movie character but pearls of wisdom from earnest centenarians plus a tone that morphs quickly from touchy-feely to downright rebellious with one screech of a guitar.
"Wisdom," an 80-second video marking Dodge's 100th anniversary, is burning up the Web, generating more than 5.7 million views within 24 hours of its posting on April 17, according to online video analytics firm Visible Measures. Even Chrysler's standout Super Bowl commercials didn't achieve such striking results in their first day online.
It's the latest in a series of viral hits that have emerged from the Chrysler-Fiat marketing shop in recent years, beginning with a 2011 Detroit-themed Super Bowl commercial that helped rebrand Chrysler -- if not the U.S. auto industry itself -- post-bankruptcy.
But while many of those hits came out of carefully planned ad campaigns backed by big budgets, videos such as "Wisdom" and one for the Fiat 500 Abarth called "Seduction," later adapted for a Super Bowl commercial, represent a different breed: small-scale, low-budget productions that the marketing shop uses to test the waters for unorthodox brand messages.
They are the product of a creative process that emphasizes experimentation and risk-taking without big spending, says Olivier Francois, chief marketing officer for Chrysler Group and Fiat. It relies on tossing even half-baked ideas into the public domain and using inexpensive social media to watch what happens.
"When you explore territories where, by definition, you have not been before and maybe not even the competition has been before, then you have to test a little bit what you do," Francois said. "And that's how we like to use social media, and YouTube in this case."