Car or Drug? Dodge Campaign Includes Pharma-Like Warnings

Post-Wieden & Kennedy Era Begins With New 'Domestic. Not Domesticated' Tagline

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Dodge has begun the post-Wieden & Kennedy era with more heavy metal and less brotherly love.

The brand, which had been running a Wieden & Kennedy campaign hearkening back to founding brothers John and Horace Dodge, has shifted gears with a new tagline -- "Domestic. Not Domesticated" -- including a pair of new ads backed by the Metallica song "Fuel."

One spot called "Warning" portrays Dodge as a drug by mimicking pharmaceutical ads with a laundry list of over-the-top warnings like "Dodge may cause loss of inhibitions and in some cases bodily functions." The campaign also includes a long-form video that shows a robotic "hellcat" animal that transforms into the the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat muscle car.

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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in March ended a six-year relationship with W&K, which led creative for the Dodge and Chrysler brands. Omnicom Group's GSD&M of Austin, Texas, was named lead agency for Dodge in late May, while Chrysler is still in review. But FCA is using a variety of agencies on the new campaign, which is consistent with the automaker's practice of moving work around. GSD&M is credited with creating the new tagline. The "Warning" ad is by Argonaut of San Francisco. The Hellcat video is by Mind Over Eye, a creative content studio based in El Segundo, Calif.

The new tagline first appeared earlier this month in a print ad in ESPN The Magazine's "Body Issue." It marks the first overall tagline for Dodge in many years, according to the brand. Dodge had been using separate lines for different vehicles, such as "New Rules" and "Don't Touch My Dart" for recent Dodge Dart campaigns. The new tagline will be used across TV, print, digital ads as well as social media and event marketing.

"Every brand has its own DNA and Dodge's bloodline is built on performance, passion and attitude," Olivier Francois, global chief marketing officer for FCA, said in a statement. "'Domestic. Not Domesticated.' embodies what Dodge stands for as a proud American performance brand. Our cars show off some very American traits -- big, fast, powerful, fun to drive - all while being a completely valid choice as a safe and reliable family vehicle. Simply put, when you drive a Dodge, you don't have to compromise. You can grow up without giving up."‎

Dodge is not permanently sidelining the brothers. "Dodge Brothers are still an important part of our communications," Randy Ortiz, the head of Dodge and Chrysler brand advertising for FCA U.S., said in an email. "We are actually running some Dodge Brothers retail spots on our Tier 2 media weight and they will be present during our Woodward Dream Cruise activations next month. They will always be a part of Dodge history and heritage." Tier 2 refers to ads that are typically used to promote sales events at regional dealerships.

Dodge's relationship with Metallica is not new. For instance, "Fuel" was also used in a recent ad promoting a sales promotion.

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