Chrysler Brings Back Employee-Discount Program

BBDO to Handle Creative; Campaign Launches in July

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DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- Chrysler Group is bringing the employee discount back to the auto industry. Faced with ballooning inventory at dealerships and rising incentives, the automaker plans to launch its program in early July, according to dealers.
Dieter Zetsche will star in a new round of ads plugging the employee-discount promotion.
Dieter Zetsche will star in a new round of ads plugging the employee-discount promotion. Credit: DaimlerChrysler

Touting fuel efficiency
Ads from Omnicom Group's BBDO Detroit and the network's New York offices will feature Dieter Zetsche, promoted last September from Chrysler Group president-CEO to global chairman of Germany's DaimlerChrysler management board; one dealer said Mr. Zetsche was in suburban Detroit last week shooting the commercials. The plan is for Mr. Zetsche to tout the fuel efficiency of Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge models along with their German engineering. The company will also offer buyers a 30-day return-policy guarantee, the dealers said.

A Chrysler spokeswoman declined to confirm any details of the upcoming program, saying only that there's a meeting today to finalize plans with an official announcement coming next week. "There are a lot of different elements, it's unique and for this company it's groundbreaking," she said.

Last June Chrysler Group was stunned by General Motors Corp.'s success with its employee discount program and started its own version in July, dubbed Employee Pricing Plus. The ads pitching the program starred former Chairman Lee Iacocca in separate executions with actor Jason Alexander and rapper Snoop Dog.

GM executives said early this year that the automaker would no longer do national, uniform-themed, multi-brand incentive ad campaigns because they caused major sales spikes -- and big sales drops when they expired. Auto experts maintain those incentive programs hurt brand equity.

Dealer complaints
Chrysler Group's current deals, mostly of zero-percent financing for 60 months, expire July 5. Dealers have complained that the automaker is forcing them to take more vehicles than they can sell.

Chrysler must clear out old inventory to make way for a slew of crucial new-model launches for all three of its brands in the second half of the year. The automaker confirmed it had held back on its first-half advertising so that it could use those dollars for the launches, as Advertising Age reported last week.
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