Spotless at Dodge

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Chrysler Group's Dodge will create far fewer TV spots for the 2002 model year and run them more often.

Julie Roehm, marketing communications director of Dodge, said its agency, Omnicom Group's PentaMark Worldwide, Troy, Mich., will produce less than half the 50 commercials created for the 2001 model year. That figure includes spots for regional-dealer ad groups, but more often than not those groups use the same creative as the automaker. Now, each one will be aired with more frequency than in the past and production costs are likely to be higher.

Dodge, the country's sixth-largest megabrand (see P. S-2), spent $519.4 million on TV last year, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR.

Past Dodge executions used a single commercial to hammer home a single different vehicle feature, so it could take six different spots to cover a model. "TV is not meant for that," said Ms. Roehm. "If I can get you to look at our spot on TV and it can make you smile and feel good about our brand, I've done my job on television." Print and the Internet are better suited for explanations of car and truck features and benefits.

Ms. Roehm didn't offer details about the new look of Dodge advertising, which will depart from a decade-long umbrella look of all-red vehicles on a set, no people and actor Ed Hermann doing a voice-over. But she did say the spots will contain more of a story element, have a touch of humor and portray Dodge as American, bold, powerful and aggressive.

Dodge isn't pretesting the TV spots, which are due to break in September or October for the overall brand and the crucial launch of the all-new Ram pickup. The marketer did consumer research on a series of new tags that wrapped up last week and will succeed "Dodge. Different." Ms. Roehm declined to reveal details.

Dodge's recent sponsorship of rock legend Aerosmith, the band's first ever, should help create a "halo effect" for the auto brand since the group "is extremely aggressive, bold and in your face," said Ms. Roehm. As part of the deal, a two-minute video by PentaMark will play before each concert on the band's 48-stop "Just Push Play" tour. It shows a montage of concert clips of Aerosmith and shots of Dodge vehicles, along with the auto brand's ram's head logo. Ms. Roehm said she wants newer songs from the band in Dodge tie-ins, including commercials, as a way to reach a younger audience. Older fans of the 25-year-old band know its sound and big hits, but not necessarily Generation Y.

Dodge sales skidded nearly 14% in the first half of 2001 to 692,134 vehicles from 804,053 a year ago, according to Automotive News. The marketer sold 492,484 trucks, which include pickups, minivans and SUVs, through June, or 90,957 fewer than a year ago.

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