By on January 18, 2010

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.

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18 Comments on “The Autoextremist Defends Dodge Decision To Run Superbowl Ad...”

  • avatar

    To be honest, even though they haven’t said anything about it, I sat in all of Chrysler’s vehicles at the auto show this year and I must say, they are significantly improved. Mainly the material quality; last year I compared the interior of a Dodge Caliber to a Gitmo torture room, yet I sat in the revised one and I thought it was rather nice. Even moreso for the Chrysler 300.

  • avatar

    Shrug. Whether we like it or not –and we don’t– Chrysler got the bailout. In the big scheme of things $2.5 million probably isn’t enough money to change even the Caliber’s plastic-fantastic dashboard, so they might as well tell the car-buying public (a great many of which will be watching the SB) that news of their demise is (slightly) premature.

  • avatar

    The new Charger starts production in the fall of this year, so I’ve heard. You do the math. The SB would be a great place to, if not introduce the car, hint at what’s coming.

  • avatar

    Not counting Rams (but still counting Dakotas and Sprinters) Dodge only sold ~345,000 vehicles in ’09, to Subaru’s 216,000.

    A year of continued product drought could spell a more  precipitous drop in ’10, and a sub-300K year isn’t out of the question.

    They can run all the Super Bowl ads they like…but by this time next year Subaru could be ahead of them. Subaru. Not very likely, but certainly possible.

    Who owns 16.5% of Subaru? Begins with a T and ends with an oyota.

  • avatar

    Chrysler, like all car companies, needs to advertise. The fact that they took government money does not change that situation.

  • avatar

    Why would anyone buy a line of cars due to be replaced by Fiats in 2012. If would be like buying an oldsmobile just after GM announcing the division will be closed.

    Chrysler has no future.

    It is over………..

  • avatar

    They We are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

  • avatar

    This money is flushed already, I guess they can waste it any way they want…it won’t change a thing.

    Was that pessimistic?


  • avatar

    Was that pessimistic?
    Maybe, but realistic non the less.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    History lesson time, Peter.

    This is not the “Just Do It” agency’s first jump into auto advertising. If you remember, Weiden + Kennedy used to do the spots for Subaru. So spectacular was their implosion, there’s a book about it (a How-To NOT Do Car Advertising) under the title: Where the Suckers Moon.

    Remember the spots? Grainy shaky cam footage, shot inside a Subaru car factory with a grave voice over: “A car is just a car. It won’t make you smarter. It won’t make you more attractive, or better than your neighbors. A car is just steel, plastic, rubber and glass…”

    It was revolutionary in its approach to car marketing. Ad award shows loved it. Dealers hated it. And it didn’t sell a thing.

    In fact, it wiped out Subaru’s position of Inexpensive, and Built to Stay that Way. And with that, Subaru’s USP of AWD was also ignored. All for edgy experimentalism and awards. Took years for Subaru to recover.

    So there’s some irony here. W+K’s back in the car game.

    And Subaru’s staying out of the Super Bowl.

    Here’s hoping W+K does better this time ’round. And that Sweet Pete does his homework next time before he pontificates on a national op/ed newscast.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Sure, what the heck waste my money. I don’t need it.

  • avatar

    Maybe they should put the $2.5 million into rebates, thereby putting about 7 bucks into each buyer’s wallet.

  • avatar

    I agree with the guy. The Super Bowl is a good place for Chrysler to shovel off some of the dirt currently thrown on their grave. I wasn’t onside with the bailout but it is a fact of life, so the ads will remind people that Chrysler is still above ground. Right now, the ads will reach many viewers who may be unaware that they are even in business. It is also a reminder of confidence to a potential buying public. People on this site and others may dissect the ads, but millions of people who are football fans just need to know that Chrysler still exists.

  • avatar

    No, the problem is that people do know Chrysler exists. They also know that they don’t make anything worth the money and that car buyers’ tax money went to keep their doors open. That’s the problem, there is such a legacy of ill will that any excuse is good enough for a car shopper to not buy Chrysler.

  • avatar
    Telegraph Road

    I’m no Chrysler fan.  I don’t think Peter De Lorenzo is either–he’s a GM guy.  But he’s been a vociferous critic of Marchionne ‘s failure to support Chrysler with new products over the next two years.  And he knows Jeep–especially Liberty–is an iconic brand and asset.  I wouldn’t second guess his advertising instincts.

  • avatar

    I don’t think the Super Bowl is a good place to buy some time.  Even though it’s been a while since there was a good ad during the SB, you’re going against every other ad.  This is the only televised event where the ad’s are as analysed as the programming.  Sure if you score a touchdown it’s great.  But rarely are there touchdowns scored anymore.  Even a decent ad will get lost in the shuffle.    The best you can realistically hope for is “The ads sucked again this year, but that Dodge ad wasn’t bad.”
    Plus it depends when the ad is bought.  What are the ratings of the game if it’s over two minutes into the third quarter?   Unless the ad is during one of the first two or three timeouts, it’s forgotten, or worse.

  • avatar

    They should just take out an ad that says, “Hello, remember us?  We didn’t die, seriously.  Were still here.”

  • avatar

    Subaru and the dog shows……
    Is this their next”legacy”
    Seriously Weird…
    but then…with their track record of  supporting………
    it might fit!

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