Chrysler Ups Digital Spending as Journey Rolls Out

Online Ad Testing Precedes New Dodge Model's Launch

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DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- Chrysler today said it will spend 29% in interactive media to launch a new model, the 2009 Dodge Journey crossover, a figure that represents Dodge's biggest digital outlay ever in terms of total dollars and percentage of the media buy.

Mark Spencer, senior manager-communications for Dodge, said the online push includes portal home-page takeovers on AOL, Yahoo and MSN on April 8, 11 and 12, respectively; behavioral targeting on sites including HGTV.com and Univision.com; and buys on search engines.
Visits to the Journey's microsite from January through March more than doubled to 1.1 million compared to Dodge's historical performance with similar three-month digital efforts according to Mark Spencer, senior manager-communications for Dodge.
Visits to the Journey's microsite from January through March more than doubled to 1.1 million compared to Dodge's historical performance with similar three-month digital efforts according to Mark Spencer, senior manager-communications for Dodge.
He said about half of Dodge's online spending is to reach consumers close to buying a new vehicle. The advertiser will spend about a quarter of its online budget on sports, entertainment and wellness websites, to help it reach its dual target of young families and baby boomers, he said.

Mr. Spencer declined to reveal spending, but said the total budget is comparable to the Dodge Nitro launch in 2007. (According to TNS Media Intelligence, Dodge spent $35 million in measured media for the Nitro's launch in the first quarter of '07.)

Organic connections
Omnicom Group's Organic, Bloomfield Hills, Mich., and San Francisco, handles all three of Chrysler's vehicle brands (Dodge, Jeep and Chrysler) with sibling PHD, New York and Detroit, which handles media buying and planning. Sibling BBDO, New York, created the general-market multimedia executions. GlobalHue Latino and GlobalHue African American, both Southfield, Mich., handle Hispanic and African-American advertising.

Dodge pre-launched the Journey from January through March on the web only, Mr. Spencer said. Visits to the Journey's microsite during the period more than doubled to 1.1 million compared to Dodge's historical performance with similar three-month digital efforts, he said. And Dodge exceeded its traditional average of 60,000 click-throughs from consumers looking for area dealers online during the quarter to 271,000 for the Journey in the period.

Dodge tracked its 20 online ads to determine which performed best, killed the ones that didn't generate activity and ended up keeping about six ads. (One curious insight: The marketer learned that ads with a blue background performed better than those with a green background.)

TV still tops
TV will still represent the biggest chunk of Journey's launch, 54%, to build awareness for the new model and name, Mr. Spencer said. The following allocations round out the media purchase: 9% for print, mostly magazines; 5% for out-of-home, mainly a cinema deal with Screenvision from April 25 through May 29; and 4% radio, mostly to reach Hispanic and African-American prospects.

The automaker has big plans for the Journey. Mr. Spencer projected about 70% of buyers to be new to Chrysler. The model is aimed at two targets: young singles and couples with small children who previously were mostly car buyers but now need more room; and baby boomers and empty-nesters in their fifties and sixties who mostly had been SUV owners and are downsizing somewhat.

Deborah Wahl Meyer, VP-CMO of Chrysler, called the Journey "critical" for Dodge this year and said the main thrust for the vehicle's launch will be April and May.

The Journey will be launched under the theme "If you can dream it, do it." That theme complements a new corporate ad blitz featuring the message "If you can dream it, we can build it," also from BBDO and breaking April 14.

Mr. Meyer said the corporate campaign is aimed at influencers, so the ongoing effort will be in targeted print and TV, with a media buy that includes Forbes, BusinessWeek and NHL and NBA programming on national broadcast and cable TV networks.
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