DODGE DEALERS FUNDING LOCAL AIRINGS OF NAT'L IMAGE ADS: AD ASSOCIATIONS SHARE 'MISSION' OF CARMAKER VIA VOLUNTARY EFFORT

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Dodge dealer advertising associations will fund local airings of spots created for national broadcast for the division's vehicles this fall.

They have agreed to help build the Chrysler Corp. division's brand image by spending a percentage of their budgets to run the national campaign spots in local time slots.

The arrangement is voluntary; the groups will determine what percentage of their ad budgets are allocated to running the national-campaign spots locally.

"The dealer body buys into what we're trying to do with Dodge," said Dick Johnson, president-chief creative officer of BBDO Worldwide, Southfield, Mich., which handles both Dodge Division and dealer group advertising. "We've revolutionized the dealer/ factory/agency partnership. They run our [national campaign] advertising and share our mission."

$35 MIL SPENT IN FIRST HALF

Dodge dealer ad groups spent $35 million in measured media during the first six months of 1997, while Dodge Division spent $294 million, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

Dodge dealer groups have the option to change their contributions to regional ad budgets from the minimum 1% of each vehicle's base cost up to 2%. About a third of the dealer groups have voted to increase their contributions to 2%.

MATCHING FUNDS

Dodge Division gives matching funds to dealer groups that have gone to that maximum.

The pact went into full swing with the 1998 Dodge Ram Quad Cab, launched in early September. But Dodge's entire product line is included.

Dealers also are using a percentage of their budgets to run national campaign spots for the Dodge Stratus.

A number of dealer groups started using national TV ads before the current push, said Patrick Fitzgibbon, chairman of the national Dodge Dealer Council. Nearly every regional group is now running the national campaign, he said.

Mr. Johnson said the push to the national ads started in January, when more dealer groups ran Dodge's brand commercial during the Super Bowl, with a big expansion this fall.

PRICE INFO USUALLY IMPORTANT

Regional dealer commercials traditionally contain more price and feature information. They often promote special lease deals or limited-time price promotions deals and are used to clear previous model-year vehicles.

The spots also are usually tagged with the regional group's name. Mr. Johnson said dealer groups are increasingly running spots from the national campaign without local tags.

Dodge said it will use staggered, separate ad splashes for its three new vehicles this fall-the Dodge Ram Quad Cab, the Durango sport utility and the Intrepid (AA, Sept. 29).

Mr. Washington is a reporter for Automotive News. Jean Halliday contributed to

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