DODGE'S BIGGEST PUSH OF YEAR TO SUPPORT INTREPID, DURANGO: REDESIGNED CAR, NEW SUV GET $120 MIL IN ADS

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Chrysler Corp.'s Dodge division is preparing its biggest ad push of the year.

The two new efforts will be for its all-new Durango sport-utility vehicle and newly redesigned Intrepid sedan. Those two Dodge vehicles will each get a $60 million campaign. Durango's breaks Nov. 3 and Intrepid's Jan. 1 during football bowl games.

$500 MIL IN TOTAL SPENDING

Dodge is expected to spend nearly $500 million on advertising in 1997. This month, the brand launched ads for the 1998 Stratus and all-new Ram Quad-Cab four-door pickup.

The brand's 1998 budget will rise, said Jim Holden, exec VP-sales and marketing at Chrysler Corp.

Mr. Holden said he hasn't set 1998 ad budgets yet, but "We intend to grow our business next year. We expect to do more [sales] volume than in 1997, so it wouldn't be consistent to be collapsing ad budgets."

The new ads from BBDO Worldwide, Southfield, Mich., inject technology across the Dodge brand, said Dave Rooney, who oversees advertising and merchandising as communications manager at the division.

"Technology is not just in the product; it's in the process," he said.

Intrepid is Chrysler's first vehicle designed and engineered with a paperless, electronic system the carmaker calls "cyber-synthesis," Mr. Rooney said.

Cyber-synthesis is introduced to consumers in a brand spot, debuting in mid-October, that features both the Intrepid and Durango. The commercial shows the vehicles in a kaleidoscope. Longtime Dodge narrator actor Edward Hermann talks about "the new vision at the new Dodge."

'FEELING' THE TECHNOLOGY

Auto consultant Susan Jacobs, president of Jacobs & Associates, said the key to whether the technology link will be effective is "how the technology is felt by the consumer. It has to be something visually different."

Among BBDO's 1998 body of Dodge work: 23 TV spots for the brand and its products, and separate eight-page ads for Durango and Intrepid. The advertising shows what have become Dodge's signature red vehicles.

USING TITLE CARDS

Under top creative Dick Johnson, BBDO started using title cards when Chrysler launched Dodge as its performance division in the early 1990s. Intrepid was launched in '93 with the title card "We're changing everything." The sedan's 1998 campaign puts a new twist on it: "We're changing everything again."

BBDO has continued to use title cards for Dodge under Mr. Johnson, president of BBDO in Southfield and chief creative officer.

Durango has six TV spots and six print ads. Its title card: "We're covering new ground." In one spot, a stretch of road flips over and Durango appears. After delivering the "covering new ground" theme line, Mr. Hermann, standing next to the sport-utility in the mud, quips that "the ground seems to be covering me."

"We wanted to avoid the first thing that comes to mind for the [sport-utility] category-go anywhere and do anything," Mr. Johnson said. The team opted against scenes of the Durango plowing through muck and instead let Mr. Hermann explain how good Durango is as a sport-utility.

Ms. Jacobs projected healthy sales for Durango. But, she added, the new sport-

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