Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

January 6, 2010

New ads causing concerns

Some not fond of Chrysler’s brand-building commercials.

Chrysler Group LLC’s TV commercials are causing controversy among dealers.

While some don’t like them, others have applauded the new approach from the automakers’ new marketing director.

With four brands — Ram, Dodge, Jeep and Chrysler — Olivier Francois has implemented a marketing strategy that worked well for him as Fiat’s marketing chief and the head of Fiat’s Lancia brand in Europe: Instead of utilizing one advertising company, each brand has a separate ad company.

For everything the Auburn Hills, Mich., company needs to accomplish — such as selling more than 931,000 cars and trucks than it did in 2009, which translated into the company’s worst sales year in 47 years — Francois said one ad company can’t do the whole job by itself.

It’s not unusual for companies to “farm out” pieces of their company to advertisers, said David R. Rink, professor of marketing at Indiana University Kokomo.

“That he is farming out product doesn’t surprise me,” said Rink, who once worked for an advertising agency. “Larger companies don’t like to give all their business to one agency.”

So far, consumers have seen the first Chrysler Group LLC ads and commercials focusing on brand image, but not products and pricing.

There is the “My Name is Ram” ad. There is an ad calling for the release of Burmese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. It’s an ad Francois designed for Lancia that has been redone for Chrysler.

In addition, there is a possible planned ad — perhaps used in the U.S. and Europe — recognizing former South African president Nelson Mandela in which Mandela drives Chrysler and Lancia cars.

No product highlights. No how-much-does-that-vehicle-cost? commercials.

This advertising approach hasn’t sat well with some Chrysler dealers who prefer the automaker show commercials focusing on product and price.

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