Chrysler Closes Factories, but Marketing Marches On

Detroit Three Continue Some Efforts as They All Cut Production

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DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- Chrysler said late today it will shut down all its plants at the end of the last shift on Dec. 19, with factory workers not back to work before Jan. 19. Despite that, the automaker will continue some current marketing efforts. Both Ford and GM have made similar moves.

Chrysler will continue to advertise its yearend sale via regional dealer groups and run national launch ads for the Dodge Ram full-size pickup through at least the end of the year.
Chrysler will continue to advertise its yearend sale via regional dealer groups and run national launch ads for the Dodge Ram full-size pickup through at least the end of the year. Credit: AP
The automaker cited "the continued lack of consumer credit for the American car buyer and the resulting dramatic impact it has had on overall industry sales in the United States" for the shutdown of its factories.

The clock is ticking for Chrysler and General Motors Corp., which both said they could run out of cash by year's end and are hoping the White House approves an emergency federal loan.

Chrysler will, at least through Dec. 31, continue to advertise its yearend sale via regional dealer groups and run national launch ads for the Dodge Ram full-size pickup, a spokeswoman at the automaker said.

Ford Motor Co., which told Washington lawmakers it didn't need a federal loan, also said late today it will shutter most of its North American plants for an extra week, until Jan. 12. A Ford spokeswoman said the announcement was merely the specific details of the automaker's report earlier this month about its reduced first-quarter vehicle production.

A spokesman at Ford said the marketer has no plans to change previously planned advertising or media during the shutdown period.

GM was first out of the gate on first-quarter production cuts, announcing Dec. 12 what it called a "significant reduction ... due to the ongoing and severe drop in industry sales." GM, which could not be reached for comment by deadline about its ad plans during the coming period, said "the speed and severity of the U.S. auto market's decline been unprecedented in recent weeks as consumers reel from the collapse of the financial markets and the resulting lack of credit for vehicle financing."

In terms of marketing, the automaker has pulled out of big-ticket items such as New Year's Eve Times Square events, the Super Bowl and the Academy Awards broadcast.

GM, which a few months ago said it planned to spend about $350 million to build an engine plant for the Chevrolet Volt electric car and small, fuel-efficient Cruze car, said that project is now on the back burner.

Even Toyota Motor Sales USA is caught in the maelstrom, saying this week it is stopping construction of its $1.3 billion plant near Tupelo, Miss., which was to build the Prius hybrid car. Toyota plans to unveil a new version of Prius at the Detroit auto show next month, but U.S. sales of the current model slumped last month to 8,660 units vs. 16,737 sold in November 2007.

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