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Chrysler Begins Push for Charger With Series of Manly Spots

Latest Ads Mark Attempt to Associate Dodge With Celebrities, Social Causes

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NEW YORK ( -- Chrysler Group has launched the first leg of an ad push touting its muscle car, the Dodge Charger, with a trio of decidedly unfeminine 30-second spots from Dodge's new agency, Wieden & Kennedy.

In each ad, a gleaming black Charger poses atop a parking deck, sun beating off the windows, while a familiar voice -- Michael C. Hall, the star of Showtime's hit series "Dexter" -- waxes poetic about manly things. The funniest of the three ads, dubbed "Man Bag," broke during the NFC Championship game broadcast this past weekend. In it, we hear Mr. Hall recounting all the things the Dodge Charger isn't: "man sandals," an "exfoliant with added moisturizer" or a "yoga class."

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The teaser spots are expected to air up until the Super Bowl on Feb. 7, when Chrysler, the only domestic car advertiser in the game, will break a new 60-second spot promoting the vehicle.

The Hemi-powered car has been an on-again, off-again brand for Chrysler. The Charger made a comeback in 2005, after a 17-year hiatus from Chrysler's vehicle lineup. Under then-director of marketing communications, Julie Roehm, online was the leading medium for an ad campaign called "Unleash Your Freak," by former agency BBDO Detroit, Troy, Mich.

New tone and feel for Dodge
Along with Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., other agencies on Chrysler Group's totally revamped agency roster include GlobalHue, Richards Group, Fallon and Universal McCann. The automaker has leaned on its agencies to roll out new advertising across its fleet of cars rapidly, and the latest Dodge Charger commercials mark the beginning of a new tone and feel Chrysler is trying to achieve for Dodge. (After the alignment of Chrysler with Fiat, Dodge cars were split from Dodge trucks as separate brands under the Chrysler umbrella.)

That new tone and feel seems to be about trying to cast the automaker as a brand associated with celebrities and social causes (two things said to be a passion of Olivier Francois, Chrysler brand's president-CEO).

Chrysler was recently the exclusive automotive sponsor for the second half of the 67th Annual Golden Globe Awards. A-listers such as Meryl Streep and Leonardo DiCaprio were each given limited-edition Chrysler 300 eco-style vehicles to ride to the awards ceremony (the cars are to be donated to the charity of their choice).

"The Golden Globe Awards honor the vision and style of the year's best in entertainment, and the Chrysler brand embodies vision and style in the automotive industry," Mr. Francois had said. That day, Mr. Francois had his personal Chrysler 300 autographed by 300 celebrities to auction off and raise money for disaster relief in Haiti.

The Paris-born executive, who came to Chrysler from Fiat, has previously grabbed headlines by signing Lancia as the main sponsor of last December's World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, chaired by Mikhail Gorbachev and Walter Veltroni. He is known for greenlighting a Lancia commercial in tribute to Aung Suu Kvi, the laureate winner still under house arrest, that featured former Soviet leader Mr. Gorbachev at a Nobel Prize event, as well as a Lancia ad featuring French first lady Carla Bruni.

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