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CHRYSLER BRINGS OUT BRAND PERSONALITIES WITH '97 ADS; AUTOMAKER AND DEALER GROUPS EXPECTED TO SPEND ABOUT $2 BIL ON EFFORT

By Published on .

Chrysler Corp. seeks to differentiate its car brands' personalities with 1997 model-year advertising now breaking.

Five separate brand campaigns will accelerate next month after starting to air over the past several days and this week. Chrysler kept the advertising under tight wraps until dealers saw the spots last week at an annual meeting with company executives.

Chrysler officials at the meeting said its spending teamed with that of regional dealer ad associations will hit about $2 billion for the '97 model year.

Last year, Chrysler itself spent $941 million on measured media, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

THE BIGGEST CHANGE

The biggest ad changes are for the Chrysler brand, with entirely new creative and a new media strategy. The carmaker is trying to broaden its appeal to customers who hadn't considered the brand before.

"We want to change what they think about the brand and speak to them with a more emotional appeal," said David Rooney, Chrysler-Plymouth communications manager.

A TIERED APPROACH

The TV campaign has three tiers and purposes, with the new tag, "What's new in your world."

Each of the first-tier spots, aimed at image building, shows a child asking philosophical questions that are woven into the brand's culture.

The second-tier spots also use children asking questions, but highlight vehicle features. The third is retail oriented, touting special, limited-time prices and incentives.

Bozell created nine spots for thefirst and second tiers; the retail ads aren't completed as yet.

PentaCom, the dedicated media planning and buying arm of Chrysler Corp., handled placement.

Chrysler and its dealer associations bought "doubles" for the spots. The dealer groups' spots will run immediately following the company's, or within the same pod, Mr. Rooney said. There was no such initiative last year.

DODGE DAKOTA SET FOR NOVEMBER

Although he said the Chrysler brand is getting a "significant" ad push, it won't get the carmaker's largest budget. It's believed the hot Dodge brand, which launches the redesigned Dakota pickup truck in November, has those honors.

Last year, Dodge spent $164 million vs. Chrysler brand's $147 million, CMR shows.

The Dodge car campaign, from BBDO Worldwide, Southfield, Mich., broke over the weekend, and actor Edward Hermann continues as brand spokesman.

The bigger Dodge push this year will be for its remodeled Dakota, with that effort not airing until November.

Dodge Dakota will try to reach more women, with its print advertising in non-traditional magazines with high female readership, said Jay Kuhnie, Dodge communications manager.

Overall, women make up about 20% of the compact pickup market, but female ownership in the segment has been growing, he said.

Although Bozell's U.S.-produced spots for Jeep have run abroad before, Jeep will be getting more international exposure.

TV GOING TO EUROPE

Both new TV executions-"Frisbee" and "El Toro"-will be picked up in Europe and are under consideration for airing in South America.

"El Toro" is a humorous 30-second spot in which a red Jeep Cherokee dives into a muddy river to escape a bull, only to be chased by a smitten pig.

The effect, which broke in the U.S. last week, retains the brand's "There's only one" tag.

Ad spending will be about the same as last year, said Mary Meyers, advertising manager for the brand. Jeep spent $145 million in 1995.

Jeep has switched its print strategy, wanting to set itself apart from the flood of competitors that also show their sport utility vehicles in beautifully rugged outdoor settings, Ms. Meyers said.

Bozell's 10 new Jeep print ads show simple images that don't focus on the SUV.

$145 MIL AD SPENDING EXPECTED

One print ad shows an astronaut floating in space with a cartoon bubble expressing his thought to get home to his Jeep to get away from it all.

The first of four Plymouth spots break Oct. 1 on such network shows as "Good Morning America" and "Late Show With David Letterman."

The campaign continues the brand's fun, youthful repositioning started last year.

Four new TV spots for the struggling Eagle brand (see earlier story on Page 25) continue the test drive theme used last year.

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