Dodge Sets Nationwide Scavenger Hunt for Journey

Automaker Says Consumers Can Keep the Crossover Vehicle if They Find It

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Dodge is launching a new TV and digital ad campaign for its Journey crossover, positioning the vehicle as the "Search Engine for the Real World."

The campaign, as outlined by Automotive News, features a treasure hunt: Dodge has hidden three Journeys around the country and customers who find the vehicles get to keep them.

The first vehicle is hidden somewhere in the western U.S. The TV spots will encourage customers to go to online for clues. The clues will feature bits of scenery and other local hints -- perhaps a motel or a cup of coffee in the cupholder from a local coffee shop -- to help searchers find the vehicles.

Dodge believes the first vehicle will be found in the West before the hunt for the second Journey begins Sept. 16 in the Midwest. The final Journey will be hidden in the East starting Sept. 23.

The campaign, created by Dodge agency Wieden & Kennedy of Portland, Ore., shows Journeys traveling through scenic American landscapes. It features the edgy voice of TV actor Michael C. Hall encouraging drivers to break away from their wired lives and get out to explore the real world.

The voice-over says: "People don't make a list of the websites they wanna see before they die. They don't fill photo albums with pictures from an online search. Like being there is not like being there. It's O.K. The internet will be just fine without you. That's why we built the first search engine for the real world -- the Dodge Journey. And then we left three somewhere out there. If you can find one, you can have one. You won't find any of them online, but it might help you figure out where they might be."

The Journey is one of seven core vehicles Chrysler Group is focusing on during an autumn 2012 ad blitz. The others include the Chrysler 200, 300 and Town & Country; Dodge Grand Caravan; Jeep Grand Cherokee; and Ram pickup.

The strategy was announced to dealers by Reid Bigland, who was named CEO of Dodge brand and chief U.S. sales executive in June. Mr. Bigland kept his title as CEO of Chrysler Canada.

One of Mr. Bigland's early moves was to simplify trim packages in the Dodge lineup. One of those packages is the entry level American Value Package, which starts at $19,795, including shipping. That compares with an entry-level price of $22 ,995 for the 2011 Journey Express.

Dodge is working to position the Journey as "the most affordable mid-size crossover in America."

Sales of the Journey are up 6% this year through August to 36 ,304 units.

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Bradford Wernle is a writer at Automotive News.

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