By on November 9, 2009

If you’re like me, you spent most of the weekend huddled under a blanket, half-watching television and praying for the flu agony to be over. And nobody who watched a considerable amount television this weekend could have avoided the latest flight of heavy-handed ads from Jeep and Chrysler’s new Ram brand. “My Name Is Ram” and the  E.E. Cummings-inspired “i am. Jeep” campaigns are blitzing airwaves across the country as the New, New Chrysler gears up to make its wildly optimistic sales goals. After five months of total silence coming out of bankruptcy, the ads are coming out in earnest, and they’ll be running non-stop in hopes of catching up with the $100 per retail sale ad spend goal for 2009.  Next year, Chrysler’s ad spending will go up to $170 per projected sale, peaking in 2011 at $210 per planned retail sale. And this increase in ad spending appears to explain why Chrysler’s sales projection charts swing wildly upwards after a dismal 2009. After all, if throwing upward of a billion bucks per year won’t change consumer perceptions, what will? Well, besides new product, anyway. There’s many a slip twixt the PowerPoint and the profit.

The major underlying concern with the latest campaigns is that there’s nothing underlying them. Sure, there’s a new Ram pickup out, but the “My Name Is Ram” ads are too busy wallowing in traditional truck-ad clichés to mention it. Chrysler’s other halfway-viable brand, Jeep, has nothing new to offer other than a long-feared selling out of brand traditionalists. What counting seconds at a joyless job has to do with the Jeep brand is nearly impossible to explain. And until the new Grand Cherokee comes out, Jeep has nothing new to reward potential customers who might be lured into a dealership by the incomprehensible spot. This is the same problem with Chrysler’s marketing-driven approach to all its brands: by putting the marketing cart before the product horse, ChryCo is hyping a nonexistent turnaround. Better to keep the powder dry and the cash unburnt until some new product hits the dealers. As it is, either these campaigns will fail to raise any interest (hardly an unlikely scenario, given their eye-rolling reception) or they will raise interest only to remind consumers how far away the product turnaround still is.

The sad part is that Ram and Jeep are actually Chrysler Group’s two most viable brands. These opening salvos do nothing but restate brands that are fairly well established in the consumer consciousness (albeit under a different name with Ram). Frankly, the money already spent blanketing this weekend’s television programming with Ram and Jeep ads were a waste. That cash could and should have been spent explaining what the hell Dodge is now that its Ram-ness has been excised. Chrysler’s ad campaign could have been kicked off already as well, since the brand needs a shot in the arm the way I need another slug of DayQuil. Of course neither of these brands have new product either, but they are far more damaged. Unlike Jeep and Ram, their very existence needs justifying. Even if the effort only brings more disappointment with its deeply uncompetitive product.

Meanwhile, the cash burn. Ad Age cites one estimate that ad spend could top $1.4B next year. If that kind of spending doesn’t translate into sales, the New New Chrysler experiment could be over before it starts.

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10 Comments on “Chrysler Ups Ad Spend...”

  • avatar

    I’ll be honest, in terms of advertising (and to another extent planning), in comparison to what GM’s come out with, you can see the advantage (and what GM is missing right now) of having a Marchionne type as CEO.

    What he is saying to the faithful is we have a plan (yes wildly optimistic) and a new direction, so please just stick with us and buy our crap for a few more years and we’ll be back. GM so far just has the same old same old.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    E.E. Cummings-inspired “i am. Jeep”

    Probably more than e.e. cummings :).

    Chrysler hasn’t got any new products to pitch, so they have to hit the advertising hard with something. As bad as Chrysler’s sales are, advertising still is important to mind share.

  • avatar

    Well as the old GEICO man says to the gecko,
    “Good luck with that catching on.”

  • avatar

    At this point I don’t know what they should do.

    1) If they advertise, they have no product to backup the hype. And spend money, lots of it, which they don’t have.

    2) If they don’t advertise, they will continue to slide into oblivion. Making them losing more money, which they also don’t need (the losses).

    The only thing they have now is improved interiors on some models. And hope.

    I guess myself what I would be doing if I was in Marchione’s place.

    I think I would advertise whatever good thing I have as product.

  • avatar

    I have seen Chrysler and Dodge Journey ads this weekend as well. And you are right:that one for Jeep makes absolutely no sense. “I am Jeep”. Pontiac is CAR,”Ford speaks car”, “the power of Blue”, “what can brown do for you?”. Who are the 6th graders that come up with this crap ?

    But they certainly can’t lay low and not advertise until they have new product. What are they supposed to do? It’s money better spent promoting what you actually have for sale than promoting vaporware like ENVI or the Volt.

  • avatar

    Who are the 6th graders that come up with this crap ?

    No 6th grader would come up with this crap.   One has to have a degree in marketing to come up with this crap.

  • avatar

    This ad and the ram ad have got to be the crappiest 2 ads I’ve seen in a long time, did it cost them a whole 2 dollars?

  • avatar

    I guess you guys aren’t paying attention or just got bought by USAToday.  The 7th slide from the CFO has a legend and a floating footnote that say that the 100 and 170 are indexed to 2009 at 100.  they are not saying that they are spending $100/car.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Puthuff

      Well excuse us! To be fair the slide isn’t very clear. For example, whoever made it published it with this right in the middle: “(Indexed to 2009 valu”
      You ought to go and accuse AdAge and Adweek of not paying attention, too. They’re reporting the same thing.

  • avatar

    Maybe Im getting old..
    Nah, I just hate Chrysler / Dodge / Jeep AND NOW RAM!

    For Christ’s sake..
    Who smoked enough POT to green light this advertising BLITZ?!

    Jeep has fallen into such disrepair, that they are relying on the Compass, Liberty and Patriot to tow them around. Paired with the Commander and the Wrangler UNLIMITED… doing exactly what differently from the GC?

    All with 5 doors.. and with as much milque toast styling to literally put me asleep.

    The Jeep ad.. says ya waste ya time in an office.. hoping for a sparing few seconds in ya Jeep to go…out and do.. Jeep, paired with the iconic yet bloated red.

    The Chrysler 300 ad is even worse. Lets bring back Celiene Dion! And Dodge.. (all the while the url is pointing to / RAM).

    P.S. I also hate to say TTAC is wrong.. but Peter Delorenzo often says ya cant just make a good advertiser / marketer and a good one.. isnt bread by watching TV. Just like a good leader for a autocompany shouldnt be a past leader.. of a TELECOM company.. or HAVE AN MBA! And for any clue.. that Delorenzo is actually right.. watch the Chrysler / Dodge / Jeep / RAM ads again.. or until nausa kicks in.

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