2022 ALL STAR | MARKETING
Dodge likes to make noise, and it did plenty of that this summer.
The muscle car brand again turned the M1 Concourse in Pontiac, Mich., into its rubber-burning playground with blistering thrill rides for fans, while providing eight performance enthusiasts with parts and cash to build their own speedsters for drag races. The "Roadkill Nights" event, which began in 2015, has turned into a yearly celebration of muscle car culture, aside from a break in 2020 during the pandemic.
Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis says there's a method behind the high-octane spectacle that's bigger than selling cars and gets at the core of the brand.
"You figure out what your consumer thinks, likes, and is interested in and wants, and you help build a community around that so that they're not a purchaser of a product, but they're part of something bigger than that purchase, which is what you see out here," Kuniskis told Automotive News at a media preview for Roadkill Nights in August. "These people didn't come out here because they're looking for a new car. They came out here because this is part of who they are and what they do. This is a community. If you can help support that community, it will come back to you and they will support you. Everything that we do is designed around that."
Dodge made more noise when it debuted the electric Charger SRT Daytona muscle car concept with its own unique roar.
Kuniskis' job before Dodge releases its first electric vehicle in 2024 is to get people on board in its foray into zero-emission speedsters. Kuniskis hopes "chief donut maker" Preston Patterson, a contest winner chosen to be a brand ambassador to the muscle car community, can help with this mission.
Kuniskis wants the "Brotherhood of Muscle" to live on in the age of EVs.
"All we want to do is keep building that community to the point where they see the value in what we're doing and where we're going," Kuniskis said. "But I can't tell them that because I tell everybody this. I get paid to tell you what I have is great, but Preston doesn't. Preston is an independent contractor that is getting a peek under the tent of what we're doing and he's hopefully going to go back to the community, which he is a part of, and [saying], 'Guys, I've seen the other side. I've seen what they're doing. There's some really interesting, cool stuff there.' So by the time we get to 2024, it's not a question of does the Brotherhood accept electrification, it's going to be, 'Finally it's here.' "