The tact is only one of many for the Chrysler Group's Sebring introduction beginning Nov. 1 that Dave Rooney, director-marketing, calls a "360-degree marketing concept" to reach prospects wherever they may be consuming media. He said the blitz includes a heavy internet component, movie and TV-program product integration, online gaming, events, and magazine and newspaper ads.
Four 30-second spots
There will be only four 30-second TV spots, two of which will be for regional dealer groups. "Our marketing today is no longer just about television," Mr. Rooney said. The work is a joint effort from Omnicom Group's BBDO Detroit, Troy, Mich., and the shop's New York office. Omnicom's Organic, Bloomfield Hills, Mich., is the brand's online agency, with sibling PHD, Troy, handling media buys.
Sebring's launch also will have dedicated creative for Hispanic, black and Asian consumers, all from GlobalHue, Southfield, Mich. The Asian work will be in three languages, Mandarin, Korean and Hindi.
Sebring competes in one of the industry's most competitive segments, midsize sedans, which is dominated by Toyota's Camry. Research by CMW Marketing Research revealed that focus groups were neutral about the Sebring, which "is not a bad thing," said Art Spinella, CMW's president. He said midsize-sedan buyers tend to be a bit more conservative when it comes to vehicle styling and are price conscious.
Mr. Spinella added that Chrysler sold 43% of all Sebring sedans last year to fleets, a sale he dubbed enormous, but which Mr. Rooney declined to discuss. "There's a lot of plain in this segment," he said, but the new Sebring "is not going to blend in."
Susan Thompson, senior manager-global communications for the Chrysler brand, said the sedan is targeted at what the automaker calls "stylish sensibles," defined as those who "are grounded but don't want to stand out too far from the crowd." The target is 60% female, 60% married, with annual household incomes of $60,000 or more.
The car starts at $18,995 and is available with options such as heated and cooled cup holders and a 20-gigabyte hard disc drive with Music Juke Box for organizing music.
In September, visitors to Chrysler.com could play Sebring-branded video games and pick from a variety of genres for background music. Ms. Thompson said 50,000-plus games were played in the first six weeks, with an average gamer spending 22 minutes per session. She said the brand is partnering with Borders.com through July 2007 for free, exclusive downloads of songs from music legends such as Johnny Cash, Tony Bennett and Miles Davis.
Ms. Thompson said Sebring will be advertised in more than 40 titles, including O, the Oprah Magazine, Tennis, Golf Digest and More.
Chrysler Sebring is also the featured model in the marketer's partnership with People magazine for its Sexiest Man Alive issue, which comes out Nov. 27. Consumers can submit a head shot of their nominee at www.people.com/yoursexyman and vote for their favorite entry to win a trip to France. Chrysler is the exclusive automotive sponsor of the contest's coverage on People.com.
And in December, Chrysler will announce a promotion in Every Day with Rachael Ray for a seven-day culinary road trip and the chance to drive the new Sebring.
Person of the Year sponsor
For the second consecutive year, the Chrysler brand is sponsoring Time magazine's Person of the Year, and Sebring ads will appear starting with the Nov. 20 issue. People who vote for their nominee on time.com can submit their own digital head shot for Time Person of the Year, and all the pictures will then be compiled into a brief electronic display in Times Square from Dec. 1-17. Chrysler will air a long-form infomercial on AOL tied to the "Person of the Year."
Moreover, the 2007 sedan will be integrated into Oxygen's "Movie Night," TBS' "Movie Extra Spotlight" and USA Network's "Character Road Trip."
Annual unit sales for the Sebring sedan peaked in 2001 at 56,616 units, Chrysler said. The Sebring convertible's peak year was also 2001, when sales reached 45,242 units.
Ms. Thompson said the automaker knows how competitive the midsize-sedan category is. She said the 2007 Sebring "will give consumers a reason to look at American cars again."