POWER PLAY: Mr. Eberhardt, 40, is administering much improved ad executions across all brands, beefing up his 2004 ad budget by $250 million for model launches. The Chrysler Pacifica is on track after a fumbled 2003 launch. The hot new Chrysler 300 sedan has boosted the brand's sales and helped increase buyer consideration across the entire Chrysler lineup by about 25% vs. a year ago; awareness is up 50%. Jeep sales are up without much new product. A new Chrysler brand campaign is themed "Inspiration comes standard," replacing "Drive+Love." The automaker shows a willingness to keep trying non-traditional ways to reach prospects such as online, events and videogames. Chrysler introduced the industry-first "Stow and Go" fold-flat rear seats in Dodge and Chrysler minivans. It created strong awareness for Hemi (engine) as a brand.
DOWNSIDE: Despite selling more cars and trucks through August than a year ago, Dodge was surpassed by Toyota in sales. Chrysler faces the challenge of Dodge Dakota midsize pickup launch this fall in a sluggish segment. Resale values of its products are not as high as top Japan carmakers.