Garfield's AdReview

By Published on .

Which is more remarkable, the marketing strategy or the ad?

Wow. Tough call. The commercial, featuring Jason Alexander and Lee Iacocca, is certainly dreadful, but the business proposition it advertises may actually be worse. So let's first look there.

Chrysler is following GM's lead by offering "employee pricing"-in other words: more sharp discounts, carving into already thin margins. It was just the latest desperate misstep for General Motors, which should have learned after 9/11 that deep discounting creates brief spikes in deliveries ultimately ruinous to corporate image and long-term sales. If they think they're desperate to reduce inventories now, wait til December.

Yet Chrysler and Ford feel they need to follow suit, lest they lose market share to GM. But what if they did? Like the old joke: "We lose money on every sale, but we make it up in volume." What Chrysler needs to do is believe in its product, establish real pricing and stay with it. Playing follow the leader with a kamikaze competitor is insane.

So, no, BBDO, Detroit, didn't have much to work with. But that hardly excuses an advertising solution so unfathomably lame.

Alexander: "Uh, you asked me to do some research on the Chrysler Group?"

Big Boss: "I'mmmm waiiiiiting."

Alexander: "They have their most award-winning and freshest lineup ever-12 vehicles with 5-star frontal crash tested ratings and projected to retain their value better than GM or Ford."

Big Boss: "Yada yada yada. You forgot the most important part of all: the deal!"

Voice-over: "It's employee pricing plus. Our employee discount plus up to an extra $3,500 cash allowance."

Alexander: "So I'd say, if you can find a better car, buy it!"

Big Boss: (revealed to be Iacocca) "Couldn'ta said it better myself, kid."

Get it? It's a "Seinfeld" homage, taking off on Alexander's George Constanza character and his sycophantic relationship with Big Boss George Steinbrenner. Alexander is a wonderful entertainer, as charming and thoughtful offstage as he is irresistible on it. The humiliation he must feel to rip off his own character-and do it so badly. This performance is actually worse than his pairing in 2003 with Annika Sorenstam for KFC, which is saying something, because that was pitiful.

As for Iacocca, yes, he became an `80s icon and corporate hero by fronting for his embattled Chrysler Corp. But he did so by speaking directly to the camera about the Chrysler best-built, best-backed promise-not by doing unfunny vaudeville blackouts based on sitcoms in rerun.

At the time, of course, he also was the CEO, proclaiming his faith in the company he ran. Since then he become an apostate, first by teaming with raider Kirk Kerkorian in a hostile takeover bid, and then by proclaiming that in his heart he was still a Ford man. Even viewers without total recall for the career of Lee Iacocca will see this episode for the stunt it is.

Sure, the casting will generate some attention, and the discounts will generate some sales. Yada yada yada. But this sorry episode will do nothing for Chrysler's image in the consumer's mind-unless possibly to remind them of Iacocca's vaunted K Car.

Which was-like this commercial-a total piece of crap.

Review 1/2 star

Ad: Chrysler

Agency: BBDO

Location: Detroit

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