Chrysler Group Launches Branded Merchandising, Hilarity Ensues
Sergio Marchionne’s misguided obsession with the alleged brand equity of his recently-acquired Chrysler Group marques has deepened, as Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep launched new branded merchandise today [hilarious press release here]. The funniest part of the whole cross-branding effort is the very idea that significant portions of the population want their day-to-day goods slathered with Chrysler Group brand names. The second funniest? The products themselves. The Chrysler Collection features such “luxury gifts” as an $11.95 leather calculator, a $199.95 mahogany humidor, and a $21.95 mini umbrella, all tagged with Chrysler’s new Aston-alike logo and doubtless finished in the same fine materials as the Sebring’s interior. If Davos had a Wal-Mart, this is what they’d sell.
Dodge Life is less obviously embarrassing than Chrysler’s pseudo- masstige, but it hardly sheds any light on what exactly Dodge is supposed to stand for as a brand. On the strong side, there’s an “Icons” line of apparel, offering T-shirts and hoodies with references to Dodge’s somewhat-glorious past, while the “Lifestyle” section is blessedly limited to die-cast models. The “Sport” apparel line consists of a few tees featuring Dodge’s new and largely unfamiliar logo and some energy drink can-inspired graphics, while the “Studio” line (above) is apparently an attempt to extend the Dodge brand to previously unimagined levels.
Meanwhile, the Jeep Gear site offers a few tees in the generic big-box fashion oeuvre, as well as what appears to be the uniforms for Jeep dealership employees (above). Because nothing expresses Jeep’s rugged, outdoorsy brand values like a shirt that makes you look like someone from a training video. Except perhaps a $14.95 Jeep-branded wine stopper or a $25.95 2GB USB flash drive (could we make this up if we wanted to?). Even the lifestyle gear that might somehow dovetail with Jeep’s brand values are half-baked answers to questions that nobody is asking. Like a $59.95 “Traveler’s Leather Journal,” and other things that well-to-do outdoorsy folks buy at REI… without a struggling brand name attached.
Meanwhile, the Jeep Gear site offers
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Call me a radical, but what happens if Kurt Bush wins the Daytona or the championship? Theoretically, the brand name would be enhanced by a Dodge victory and people would buy the gear. But that's probably just crazy talk isn't it? After all, who buys gear from Super Bowl teams?