Schroer out: Chrysler shifts to hard-sell approach

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Amid sliding sales and the departure of a top marketing executive, Chrysler Group today breaks a $100 million ad campaign for all three of its brands to boost summer traffic to dealerships.

The spending is an add-on to Chrysler's budget. Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep ads will all carry the same tag line. George Murphy, senior VP-global marketing at Chrysler Group, said the goal is "to put as much money [as possible] down the funnel where buyers are."

sales drop

The effort to move the metal comes as Chrysler's vehicle sales fell 13% through April from the same period a year ago, according to Automotive News. The hard-sell pitch also closely follows the departure of Chrysler Group Exec VP-Global Sales and Marketing Jim Schroer, a major proponent of the marriage of content and commerce and architect of the automaker's $14 million, three-year deal with Celine Dion.

A Chrysler spokesman said Mr. Schroer, 51, would "pursue other interests in other areas of the marketing profession." Mr. Schroer, who had arrived at Chrysler after a four-year stint at Ford Motor Co., is succeeded by German-born Joe Eberhardt, 39, president-CEO of DaimlerChrysler U.K.

Asked whether Mr. Schroer's departure is a signal that Chrysler's German parent is taking greater marketing control, the spokesman said, "The person replacing him is German-born, but citizenship is not something we're very concerned with."

Mr. Schroer could not be reached for comment.

It couldn't be determined how Mr. Schroer's departure would affect Chrysler's $14 million bet on Ms. Dion. The three-year alliance appears to be working best at selling Celine: Chrysler sales have dropped in the four months since the deal was announced, while sales of the singer's new CD soared.

"One Heart" was certified double platinum April 23, meaning 2 million copies had been shipped to or sold by U.S. retail outlets, said John Henkel, a director at the Recording Industry Association of America.


Ms. Dion is emphasized less in new ads from Omnicom Group's BBDO, Troy, Mich., and sibling Arnell Group, New York, for Chrysler's Pacifica beginning this week. A spokesman said that, as part of the original launch plans, the newer ads spotlight Pacifica's features.

The first ad phase didn't drive traffic to the showrooms, two dealers said. Pacifica "is a little bit of a secret" partly because in the first spots with Ms. Dion "you hardly see the vehicle at all," one said.

Mr. Murphy, however, said ads with Ms. Dion have improved awareness for the brand and Pacifica. "Then our job is to create consideration." Tom Marinelli, VP-marketing at Chrysler brand, called the move upmarket with Ms. Dion "a journey. It takes several years to change positioning and the image of a brand."

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