CHRYSLER VAN DEBUTS VIA NEW TECHNO-SHOW

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DETROIT-The 1996 Plymouth Grand Voyager has hit the big screen-literally.

Chrysler Corp.'s redesigned minivan and a theatrical outdoor advertising technology made their joint debuts over the July 4 holiday in a spectacular display of lights, graphics and sound.

A huge, 2,400-square-foot image of the Grand Voyager danced on the walls of local landmarks here and bounced off nearby buildings. In addition, larger-than-life footage from upcoming commercials announced the minivan's debut to thousands of Detroiters awaiting the city's annual fireworks display.

The commercials, by Bozell, Southfield, Mich., are expected to begin appearing on TV later this summer.

Similar shows using the new, dramatic technology, called Projection Media, were staged at Fourth of July festivals in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.

Created by Advanced Communications Group, a division of Foote, Cone & Belding, San Francisco, the night ads use advanced cinematic technology combined with light-and-graphics techniques often found in the theater and entertainment industry.

Don Davidson, president of Gannett Outdoor, Projection Media's exclusive marketing and sales representative, touts it as "art on the city skyscape."

"We can illuminate the night with power branding leaving nothing in the morning except the impact of the message," he said.

Businesses sniffed out Projection Media's sales potential early on. Before Gannett Outdoor formally began selling the new ad medium, Chrysler executives heard about it and committed to it in time for the summer holiday festivities. Levi Strauss & Co. has since signed on as well, with plans to use the advertising in the late summer launch of its Dockers Authentics line.

"We haven't really started to sell [Projection Media] yet, but these two companies jumped in and said, `Hey, we've got to have this stuff,"' Mr. Davidson said.

With an estimated 4.5 million people in attendance at the four shows, Chrysler is satisfied with its investment in the captivating technology and plans to use it again, said Joe Camponigro, senior VP-director on Chrysler/Plymouth at Pentacom, Chrysler's Troy, Mich.-based media buying agency.

"It certainly was an impactful way to launch our Grand Voyager minivan in some pretty important markets for us," said Mr. Camponigro. "The whole idea of the newness of the media working in conjunction with the newness of the product made it an ideal fit."

Gannett Outdoor charges $40,000 a week for a show, assuming the advertiser provides footage and slides, said a spokesman for Gannett. Special effects can add to the cost.

"Sure, it's more expensive [than traditional media], but we thought the additional expense was well worth the impact of the message," Mr. Camponigro said.

"It worked well for us, and it did what we hoped it would do: stop people, have them notice the commercial, have them register what the product was," he said. "If all they took home was, `Hey, this is really something,' it did exactly what we wanted it to do."

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