Ram tries new tack

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Chrysler Group is shifting gears on ads for its new Dodge Ram. The move follows complaints by some dealers that initial ads didn't explain product benefits or generate sales, according to an executive close to the marketer who requested anonymity.

New spots, appearing in late January and created by Omnicom Group's PentaMark Worldwide, Troy, Mich., will show a day in the life of a Ram owner. The ads drop music from rock band Aerosmith.

In September, Dodge began a one-year sponsorship of that band arranged by Omnicom's Arnell Group. Aerosmith's "Just Push Play" song was heavily featured in Ram spots that broke Sept. 6.

Dodge '02 Ram sales jumped 30% from October to November. But total November sales, which include the '01 model, slid 5% vs. last November. Julie Roehm, Dodge marketing communicators manager, cited lower inventory levels and production ramp-up as reasons for slower sales. She denied Dodge was changing ad plans, saying that there were no plans to use Aerosmith in the pickup's second launch phase. Internal and third-party research, she added, shows the initial ads built awareness.

Dick Withnell, Dodge dealer council chairman, said, "Advertising becomes a whipping boy, but I'm not so sure it's so much the advertising as it is the market conditions." He said the Aerosmith ads showed a willingness to take risks, but added: "Those ads don't give the why to [buy]."

Ms. Roehm said Dodge plans a multi-faceted media plan with Aerosmith in the second quarter that goes beyond TV, adding, "We're not backing away from Aerosmith."

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