Chrysler Is Naming New Ad Agencies for Brand Makeovers

Posted by: David Kiley on October 1, 2009

Chrysler LLC is down to choosing ad agencies for its brand restructuring: reportedly choosing a Texas agency to handle Ram truck business.

The automaker, now partly owned by Italian automaker Fiat, which is also responsible for managing the company following its Chapter 11 filing and government bailout, has served notice on long time ad agency BBDO.

The Richards Group of Dallas, whose last car account was Hyundai, according to trade publicattion Ad Age, will handle Ram truck. According to one high-ranking Chrysler official, though, that assignment is not finalized.

Chrysler is embarking on a questionable strategy of breaking the Ram pickup truck off to be its own brand. At some point in the near future, Ram will cease to carry the Dodge brand. Fiat, then, will in future years, roll other trucks and commercial vehicles into the Ram brand.

BBDO was able to secure an assignment to handle Chrysler brand advertising through the 4th quarter, playing up Chrysler 300 and Town & Country minivan in ads, according to sources. But Chrysler is expected to name another agency to handle Chrysler brand after that, positioning the brand for the future.

The agencies contending for Chrysler’s assignments, which also includes the Dodge brand include: Publicis Groupe’s Publicis & Hal Riney (one-time Saturn agency), San Francisco; sibling Fallon, Minneapolis (former BMW agency); Omnicom’s Cutwater, San Francisco (former Jeep agency); and MDC Partners’ Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Miami (former Volkswagen agency).

Still to be heard: which agency will handle Dodge, as well as Chrysler on a long term basis. It is possible that BBDO could retain the Chrysler brand, having scored the fourth-quarter assignment.

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, who has final say over the agencies chosen, was not even present for the pitches. Chrysler executives took video, storyboards and other material to Marchionne after they had reviewed the work.

Dodge is meant to be positioned as “Modern American Performance,” while the plans for Chrysler brand are to take the nameplate into Cadillac and Lincoln territory over time both with product and pricing. Ram truck positioning is expected to push Ram as a truck for people who play hard. Statistics show that a huge percentage of Ram owners use their truck to tow all-terrain-vehicles, snowmobiles, Waverunners, etc., as well as to carry canoes, kayaks and the like.

Ford and Chevy seem to have the “work truck” positioning sewn up, so Chrysler is going to a “sporty” truck brand strategy.

Reader Comments

ropak

October 1, 2009 7:53 PM

The Dodge Brand has been associated with cars and trucks since the early 1900's.

Phrases like Dodge Dependability and Dodge Ram Tough are two tag lines that I rememeber for many years. I think taking the Dodge Name from the truck after so many years is wrong and to me is the first big mistake that Marchionne will come to regret.

Remember what the buying public thinks. Ford is for cars and trucks. When they think of Chevrolet they think of cars and trucks. Now when they think of Dodge it will be for cars only, and oh ! yes what kind of trucks does Chrysler Corp build?????? Not a good marketing idea.

Just look at the voulme spread between Chevy Trucks and GMAC. General Motors would do well to drop the GMC name plate and rebadge all trucks Chevrolet.

kasjun

October 4, 2009 6:47 PM

The last paragraph about Ford and Chevy having the "work truck" market sewn up is the most ridiculous statement I've ever seen in print. The Dodge with the Cummins diesel will put both the Ford and Chevys to shame.

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News, opinions, inflammatory meanderings and occasional ravings about the world of advertising, marketing and media. By marketing editor Burt Helm, Innovation Editor Helen Walters, and senior correspondent Michael Arndt.

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