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The 1996 launch of the Plymouth Breeze was key for the Chrysler Corp. brand's revival.

The mid-size sedan, which replaced the Acclaim, was the brand's first new product under the "Plymouth Renaissance" to reposition the stodgy nameplate. Breeze's target: young families and adults under 40, with women accounting for between 55% and 65% of sales.

Plymouth simultaneously launched the Breeze during the 1996 Super Bowl with the relaunching of the marque via ads from Bozell, Southfield, Mich.

David Rooney, who as communications manager at Plymouth oversaw the launch, says a central component to Breeze's debut was a more site-marketing effort, to get the car in front of people who normally wouldn't consider buying a Plymouth. Breeze was brought to about 500 events in 1996, including festivals and running marathons.

Another key element was Plymouth Place, an interactive kiosk rolled out early last year and is now in more than 3,000 malls.

Just under 30% of those consumers who bought a Breeze during the first quarter of 1996 said they learned of the sedan at Plymouth Place, Mr. Rooney says. More than half of these buyers said they hadn't considered Chrysler before they visited Plymouth Place.

Sales have been impressive. In its debut year, 64,500 Breeze sedans were sold. During the first quarter of 1997, Breeze sales were up 59%, to 22,082, vs. a year ago.

Plymouth has maintained ad support for Breeze, unlike past years when new-model programs slipped significantly after a big launch blitz, says Mr. Rooney, now communications manager at Chrysler's Dodge division.

Plymouth spent $42.6 million on the Breeze last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting-a major jump over the roughly $18 million spent on all Plymouth models in 1994. Mr. Rooney expects that to continue into the next model year.

"We had a new product, a new campaign for Plymouth, Plymouth Place and a real grass-roots program," he says. "It all happened together."

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