Chrysler's New Tune: If You Can Dream It. We Can Build It.

Posted by: David Kiley on April 4, 2008

dodge-journey-2.jpg

Chrysler LLC is embarking on a new advertising effort to try and drum up showroom traffic for a flock of cars that mostly have not been met with enthusiasm from consumers or the media.

It’s the first major effort from the automaker since Cerberus Capital acquired a controlling stake in the company from DaimlerChrysler. The ads, which break next week, are themed, “If You Can Dream It. We Can Build It.” It is said, by sources, to be a corporate effort that will touch Chrysler’s three brands—Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep.

The idea, says a dealer who has seen the work, is to convey that Chrysler designs vehicles around the needs of consumers, and that it is a company that listens. In one ad for the new Dodge Journey SUV (pictured above) the utility vehicle emerges from a garage as a chassis, and gets assembled as it rolls down a street, bit by bit from having listened to what customers want.

Chrysler will unveil the campaign to media on Monday, April 8. According to the dealer who saw some of the work, “It’s nicely done, but what we need is stuff that will really put boots in the showroom and drive traffic to our websites.”

Chrysler LLC’s sales were down almost 20% in March, owing to some substantiala declines in production and fleet sales, and almost 16% for the first quarter. Especially hard hit have been Dodge Ram, big SUVs, such as Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee, and the minivan business. Too, Chrysler has been beset by poor reception in the media and in J.D. Power rankings for new vehicles like the Chrysler Sebring, Dodge Nitro and Dodge Avenger. The company has high hopes for the Journey.

On the upside, the company’s small crossovers—Dodge Caliber, Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot—are collectively up 51%, and selling decently in Europe as well as the U.S.

It is the first time Chrysler has really tried a corporate wide ad effort since the ill-fated “Dr. Z” ads, featuring former CEO Dieter Zetsche, which ran in 2006. That effort was designed to remind people of the German roots of Chrysler’s new vehicles. This new campaign tries to play on Chrysler’s strength of emotional designs and customer-friendly features.

The campaign, developed by BBDO, was directed at the company by chief marketing officer Deborah Walh-Meyer, who was recruited to Chrysler last Fall by Cerberus from Toyota.

Chrysler this week kicked off a website, www.chryslerlistens.com, as a listening post for suggestions, and from which it will recruit some 2,000 people willing to participate online once or twice weekly. According to Ad Age, the project will enable Chrysler to break down the recruits into categories such as sex, vehicle brand or vehicle-type ownership.

Reader Comments

Noz

April 4, 2008 7:43 PM

Nothing wrong with a corporate ad campaign, the whole works is sinking hand in hand, and if saved, this will be the case too. The latest issue of CR does not recommend the Sebring convertible, not a reliability problem (yet), but just plain terrible overall quality. The sedan is no better. But I digress...

Ads don't draw customers, but word of mouth works rather well. In both directions. Thus far is has worked against Chrysler's offerings with very few exceptions. And time is running out.

The slogan is just that, kind of a fraud if potential buyers understood the guts of the auto biz as practiced in America. Each of the Failing Three can build to order. The 'imports' don't do this for excellent reasons, their 'out' is equipping what they offer with what most people want--take it or leave it. Needless to say, they are opting for the first choice. This simplifies the dealer ordering process, the manufacturing end too. Even the selling process--until the slicko's apply their slimy tricks of the trade. Uniformity in assembly means fewer errors--except with the Germans.

Check out the pic of that Dodge Journey in terms of the colour of the driver's door in comparison to the back door. A mismatch! Not by a lot, and granted silver is difficult, but for a 'show car'???

And not just that, this vehicle brings nothing compelling with it to market. This, while carrying a tremendous burden of mistrust on the part of a potential buyer. Why would one choose this over, say, a HONDA Pilot? And the Pilot is about to undergo its rebirth with the second generation.

Don't look at me folks, I am not about to spring for 'the unknown', or put another way, 'the doubtful', when it comes to yet another possible dodge. Sorry, Dodge.

Arthur

April 5, 2008 2:28 AM

I think this is great what Chrysler is doing. We have a chance to fix an American icon in the auto industry. True, it is possible that nothing may come of this, but this is one opportunity I wasn't going to pass up.

Slavenko Shoshkic

April 5, 2008 10:41 PM

Chrysler should keep Pacifika as one of the best cars ever.I drove the car so until they still many times and I can not understand why they discounted it.Probably the have to look one more time since they still have all the components ready and can make a couple of changes in the engine and sale it again very sucsesfully.
Thanks

Fred Mikkelsen

April 6, 2008 8:13 AM

It is unfortunate that Chrysler doesn't understand what motivates American adults, and further doesn't have the wisdom to seek the advise of someone who does.

"Dr. Z" was Ronald McDonald with a lab coat. The campaign wasn't ill-fated, it was probably sabbotage. How could it have possibly benefitted Chrysler?

There are two plays for an automobile sale--image sale, and comfort sale. BMW and Toyota compete on both. Mercedes towards image but pretending to emphasize comfort. Ford towards comfort. Etc.

For giving a person "comfort", how did Dr. Z help? He's portrayed as a freak. How did Dr. Z give people comfort? ...

Here's the ad I would have followed up with the Dr. Z. ad .... Christopher Lloyd, trim and in a tuxedo, speaking calmly talking about how he likes the Chrysler's interior, quietness, and gentle ride. "I'm not Dr. Z, thank god. I'm just a guy who likes to drive a nice car that cleans up well."

Fred Mikkelsen

April 6, 2008 10:30 AM

It is unfortunate that Chrysler doesn't understand what motivates American adults, and further doesn't have the wisdom to seek the advise of someone who does.

"Dr. Z" was Ronald McDonald with a lab coat. The campaign wasn't ill-fated, it was probably sabbotage. How could it have possibly benefitted Chrysler?

There are two plays for an automobile sale--image sale, and comfort sale. BMW and Toyota compete on both. Mercedes towards image but pretending to emphasize comfort. Ford towards comfort. Etc.

For giving a person "comfort", how did Dr. Z help? He's portrayed as a freak. How did Dr. Z give people comfort? ...

Here's the ad I would have followed up with the Dr. Z. ad .... Christopher Lloyd, trim and in a tuxedo, speaking calmly talking about how he likes the Chrysler's interior, quietness, and gentle ride. "I'm not Dr. Z, thank god. I'm just a guy who likes to drive a nice car that cleans up well."

AnotherSchstick

April 7, 2008 5:28 AM

Ex-Home Depot man, Nardelli, thinks he's running a hardware store. He thinks the American car buyer will suddenly turn around and start buying Chrysler products because he's putting on some snazzy ads featuring the same old products with same quality problems. He is as out of touch with American car buyers as mustache bald-headed heavy accented Zetsche when Chrysler was part of Mercedes. The main problem at Chrysler is that its leaderships think they can repackage the same old technology in new sheet metal and that will sufficiently persuade the American buyer into believing these masquerades as real innovations with superior quality. Chrysler cars are just resurrection of obsolete patched-up old tech labeled as "new improved" or "latest-the-greatest." Chrysler engines consistently achieve the worse mpg because they are inefficient old engines. For example: Durango's dimensions are about the same as Toyota's 4Runner or Highlander but its mpg is much inferior to the 2 imports. RAM 150 is an embrassment when compared with the Tundra. The Jeep has new sheet metal with same old engine so that it should not come as a surprise that its mpg/performance is inferior to its competitors. When was the last time Chrysler produced a competitor to Toyota's Corolla, Honda Civic, or even Nisson's Stanza or more embarassingly, the recent Hyundae/Kia's Rio, Accent? Chrylser can't produce a superior small car because it doesn't have a variable valve-variable timing 4 cylinder OHC engine with advance computer engine control. You might say Chrysler has fallen back to the stone-age. Chrysler RAM is rated below Ford, Chevy, Toyota, and Nisson pickups in fuel economy, reliability, and below in almost all catagories. Over 30 years ago, Chrysler was an innovator, a leader in technology: Hemi engine, advance braking system, electronic ignition, styling coupled with state-of-art engines. Today, it lags behind even Ford which is suffering from dismal sales of its own. Chrysler has no hybrids, no electric concept, no hydrogen/fuel cell concept waiting in the wing. Some of these concept vehicles will be reality in the next five years and Chrysler will be the last out the gate. Believing big vehicles makes big profit, the stupid leaders of Chrysler bet big on trucks and big cars. It lost big time. The continued high fuel prices will bury Chrysler. Nardelli is an old geezer with no auto experience; he is a fish out of water; he has no clue as to what's ailing Chrysler. However, not everything is lost: he is an excellent butcher who can cut jobs mercilessly while saving his cozy 7 digit salary+corporate perks. At best, Nardelli is an reincarnation of Townsend, a bean counter, who sent Chrysler into bankruptcy in the early '70s. Cerberus now has 2 headaches: Nardelli and Chrysler's bleeding red ink. Jim Press won't have enough time to save Chrysler. Since high oil will continue for several years, Cerberus will try to unload this albaltross within 2-3 years. The only possible buyers: Korean and Chinese. And Cerberus thought it stole Chrysler from Mercedes. It aint seen nothing yet. In stead of the slogan, "If you can dream it we can build it," say "we have to built quality into our cars else we will go bankrupt in 2 years." At least that's more honest.

Savoy

April 14, 2008 4:12 PM

I remember the Dr Z ads. Hopefully the “If You Can Dream It. We Can Build It. pitch can convey the message for the 3 brands

I am posting a review for the new chrysler models that I read about here:
http://www.thecarconnection.com/vehiclereviews.asp?Make=Chrysler&Model=&Year=

Brian Miller

May 5, 2008 1:14 AM

All the negative comments (especially the first comment bashing the Sebring) seem to come from people who haven't owned or driven a Chrysler product in many years.

I have a new 2008 Sebring sedan that's loaded with a lot of great technology for thousands less than I would have paid for comparable cars from Ford, GM, Toyota or Honda. The quality is good, the handling is good, the car is solidly put together.

This car would sell a lot better if people test drove it and compared it to competing models that cost more. It's also got a great lifetime warranty, which gives me peace of mind.

If Chrysler can get people into the showrooms, the cars will sell. They've never been better, and they've never been a better value. The people bashing Chrysler's vehicles, to a man, typically don't have any time behind the wheel of one or as an owner of one -- they're just following the herd mentality that "Chryslers are bad."

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