The gist of Sweet Pete DeLorenzo’s argument is that Chrysler has to do something to remind Americans that they still exist. Given the Chrysler’s inability thus far to articulate a vision for the Dodge brand post-Ram, this makes a certain amount of sense. With a new, well-respected ad agency, Dodge could use the Super Bowl’s giant stage to get back on the buying public’s radar. The problem with the plan lies in the one question that DeLorenzo fails to answer: why bring buyers into Dodge showrooms if there’s nothing there?
Contrary to the Autoextremist’s assertions, Chrysler is a complete write-off product-wise, and will be for about another year. Even if Wieden+Kennedy come up with the next great car ad, the effort will only end in frustration for all concerned until Dodge has new product to back up a big ad spend. Dumping cash on superbowl ads makes no sense until Fiat has cleaned up Chrysler’s new products. Need proof? The last time Dodge ran a Superbowl ad, it was for the Magnum… ’nuff said.
Product aside, there’s also the question of message. For one thing, we still have yet to see any evidence that Dodge stands for anything as a brand. Further confusing the outlook for the ad is Chrysler Group Marketing boss Olivier Francois’s vision for the ad: “It looks like the ad we have today,” Francois tells Automotive News [sub]. “It sends a message of irreverence, passion for cars and fun to drive.” Where does the ESL stop and the brand confusion begin?
Meanwhile, for a final contrast, Subaru is avoiding the Superbowl altogether, instead running low-cost TV ads on that great competitor to the Superbowl, the Puppy Bowl, highlighting Subaru’s sponsorship of the ASPCA. Having grown its sales all year on the back of a strong brand image, Subaru is cementing its branding ties to pet ownership as a signifier of (or substitute for) the outdoorsy image of its vehicles. According to Automotive News [sub], Subaru spent about $200m on advertising in 2008 and has been steadily increasing that amount.