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DODGE BRINGS BACK THE MUSCLE CAR

Readies $60 Million Ad Campaign for Charger

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DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- Chrysler Group is readying an estimated $60 million campaign to back the return of the Dodge Charger muscle car, which has been absent from the automaker's vehicle lineup since 1988.
The Charger returns to the Dodge lineup after a 17-year hiatus.

The integrated three-month campaign, which kicks off June 1, incorporates traditional media such as national TV, outdoor, print and online with in-bar gaming from NTN, office building elevator ads on the Captivate Network, in-flight airline spots, in-cinema spots and dozens of events.

“Unleash” is the theme for the ad blitz.

Back to the car business
The Charger is the first Dodge aimed at getting the brand “back into the car business,” Darryl Jackson, vice president of Dodge marketing, said. The Dodge Magnum, a low-slung, retro-looking wagon -- and sibling to the Chrysler 300 sedan -- helped boost Dodge’s car market share from 3.7% to 4.5%, he said. Dodge’s truck share is 18% and it has 20% of the minivan market.

Dodge sold 261,124 cars last year in the U.S. compared with 298,601 units the year before, according to AdAge.com sibling Automotive News. Dodge sold 928,770 trucks in 2004 compared with 924,701 in 2003. The peak sales year for the Charger was 1973, when it sold 119,318 units.

Omnicom Group’s BBDO Detroit in Troy, Mich., is the brand’s main ad agency. GlobalHue, Southfield, handles the Hispanic and African-American accounts and the Bloomfield Hills office of Organic handles online.

Fred Diaz, director of marketing communications at the brand, declined to give spending details by mediums.

Dodge spent $658 million in measured media in 2004, according TNS Media Intelligence.

Modern muscle
“The Charger offers modern coupe styling with four-door functionality and captures the essence of the Charger in the '60s, '70s and '80s,” Mr. Jackson said. “It’s definitely a modern muscle vehicle of the 21st century, but with performance, safety and customer conveniences.” Previous versions of the classic muscle car were two-door.

The main target consumer is 66% male, with a median age of 46, suburban, married with two teens and an average annual household income of some $75,000, Mr. Jackson said.

100,000 opt in
The marketer has already gathered info from 100,000 consumers who signed up to receive more information about the vehicle at auto shows or at dodge.com over the past six months, Mr. Diaz said.

Those "handraisers" will get an e-mail blast about Charger June 1 directing them to a Charger micro site, dodge.com/charger. Visitors will see animated 3-D videos of four characters and are invited to “Unleash Your Freak.” The characters, two of which are still in development, will represent a Speed Freak, Power Freak, Control Freak and Style Freak. A new "Freak" will be introduced every two weeks through mid-July. Online hologram key chains will show each "freak.” A spectacle-wearing librarian, for example, changes into a foxy lady.

Dodge is still mulling whether to create actual key chains or figures of each character as collectibles, Mr. Diaz said.

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