Tag Archives: Chrysler

Mystique of Dodge’s Ron Burgundy Blitz

Dodge’s over-the-top Durango blitz starring Will Ferrell, seems to be heading into the realm of cult status.

The campaign features dozens of video with the actor reprising his 2004 film role as the obnoxious 1970s’ “Anchorman” Ron Burgundy.

Yes, Chrysler Group CMO Olivier Francois is at it again, showing his penchant for using big names in advertising.

The Dodge brand’s irreverent big tone and attitude make Ron Burgundy the perfect pitchman for the new 2014 Dodge Durango,” he said.

The Dodge brand irreverent? Since when? I do recall the irreverent “that thing got a Hemi in it” Dodge ads with comic Jon Reep. But that was back in the DaimlerChrysler days. And those Hemi ads were for the Dodge Ram. Now Ram is a separate brand from Dodge.

Chrysler said it didn’t pay anything for Ferrell to appear in the campaign. That’s because this is a co-promotional deal. Every Durango ad touts the upcoming “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” movie with Farrell, arriving around Christmas. Don’t kid yourself, Chrysler is spending tens of millions of dollars in media promotion to promote this movie for Paramount Pictures.

The buzz for the Durango push has been incredible, already attracting 15 million views on YouTube since hitting national television in October. The media push includes print, Facebook and Twitter.

If you have somehow miraculously missed seeing any of these commercials from Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, here is one of the latest, posted December 7, touting the Durango’s good looks

In just 4 days this attracted almost 90,400 views.

Dodge’s ad agency, Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, worked with Farrell’s Funny Or Die website to write the spots.

The news coverage of this enormous campaign has been mind-boggling. Traffic to Durango’s web site has jumped by 80%. Most important, Durango sales have increased dramatically: 59% higher in October and 36% in November versus the same year-ago months.

And what would a major blitz be without a sweepstakes? There was also a 6-day online contest last month to win a 2014 Durango and other prizes. Visitors to Handsonronburgundy.com had to keep their “hands” (via their mouse) on the Anchorman the longest. The contest kicked off online with a YouTube video that, even though the contest is over, is still attracting views, now topping 287,000.

Are you laughing yet?

Several fellow reporters have told come to me puzzled about the work, saying “I don’t get it.” They, like myself, are baby boomers.

Simply put, this work is not for us. It’s aimed at a younger target.

My unscientific research reveals that younger people have a very different sense of humor and definition of funny than boomers. Think of TV’s “The Office.” The show is wildly popular even though plenty of us boomers don’t “get” it.

And thus it is with Mr. Burgundy and Dodge.

I must admit that the work breaks through the clutter. With some 70 executions- how could it not? The Burgundy character in his tacky outfit, bad hair and clueless attitude pulls viewers in like a magnet whether you saw or even know of the first “Anchorman” movie.This is not your father’s car advertising. The draw is similar to the “rubber-necking” effect of motorists slowing to a virtual stand still to check out traffic accidents. It’s advertising you might love to hate.

Speaking of fender benders, Ferrell called the Durango “a terrible car” in an interview with Conan O’Brien, a few weeks ago. “They gave me one for free, and I drove it four feet and the thing cracked in half,” he told the late-night host.

Ouch!

Doing some quick PR work, Chrysler explained that Ferrell was merely acting as Ron Burgundy and they weren’t upset.

But quite a few of online comments reacting on YouTube to the segment agreed with Ferrell and blasted Chrysler quality. Not exactly a very good thing. Not at all.

You’ve got to wonder whether Ferrell will be back as a Dodge spokesman for Anchorman 3.

My guess is no.

MAKING TRACKS: Brent Dewar joins NASCAR as COO. Dewar worked at GM from 1978 to 2010, with stints that included VP of Chevy globally and VP of marketing and sales.

MAKING TRACKS II: Gareth Kay becomes co-owner of the new San Francisco office of Minneapolis-based creative consultancy Zeus Jones and will also be founding partner of the West Coast office. Kay was chief strategy officer at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco.  His resume includes stops at Modernista, Lowe and TBWA.

Follow me, Jean Halliday, on LinkedIn and Facebook and on Twitter :@jhal2001

*This first appeared as Jean Halliday’s “AdRant” in CNWs subscriber-only, online auto industry report.

(This first ran as

2012 Car Ad Review

As the curtain opens this week on 2013, it’s time for AutoAdOpolis’ annual year in review. Which carmakers and ad agencies executed outstanding efforts, which had some decent doubles and triples and which were just plain so-so?

Let’s start with the good news.

Chrysler Group scored big with its launch work for the return of the new, modern Dodge Dart. Ad agency Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, really hit it over the fence with this commercial that also debuted the tag line “New Rules”

Not only is this spot clever and witty, the art direction really catches your eye. Plus, this ad actually gives viewers a real sense of the brand.

Chrysler also gets high marks for the commercial for Fiat USA, dubbed “Immigrants” from The Richards Group. The :60 spot, which broke in the summer, hilariously depicts the next-gen 500 arriving to our shores- the hard way.

Like the Dodge spot, this is fun to watch and should put a smile on your face. It’s a perfect way to convey the car’s Italian heritage, which wasn’t the case in 2011 when Chrysler partnered with Jennifer Lopez for Fiat ads- a total disconnect that looked more like a music video for her new song than a spot for the car.

Both the Dart and 500 spots spotlight music from popular artists, a tactic preferred by Chrysler Group CMO Olivier Francois to grab viewers’ attention. The song in the Dodge ad is “No Church in the Wild” by J-Z and Kanye. The Fiat commercial pushed the new “Sexy People” single from Pitbull featuring Arianna. In neither case do the songs overpower the commercials.

Speaking of smiling, how about Volkswagen of America’s brand blitz that bowed with the :30 spot called “Smiles,” showing people of all ages laughing. There are no cars in this brilliant commercial from Deutsch in Los Angeles. It really captures the essence of the brand with the line “it’s not the miles, you how you live them.” The spot directs viewers to the whyvw.com sites, where they can post stories about their VWs or learn more about the cars from other owners and from VW.

Quite a brave move for a car marketer to not show a car in an ad, so kudos to VW’s CMO and chief product officer Tim Mahoney and his right-hand man Kevin Mayer, VP-marketing.

One of the most memorable spots that didn’t show a car was Jeep’s award-winning 1994 commercial, dubbed “Snow Covered” from the now-defunct Bozell in Southfield, Michigan.

Audi of America, which has been one of the industry’s best and most consistent advertisers in terms of creative, hits it out of the park again early in 2012 with a spot called “Ahab” for its all-wheel-drive Quattro system. The commercial spoofs Herman Melville’s epic sea captain character in search of an elusive whale with a northern tow truck operator and his frustration with never “hooking” an Audi with Quattro stuck in the snow. A very smart and entertaining execution from Venables Bell & Partners in San Francisco.

While we’re on Audi, the brand’s Super Bowl “Vampire” commercial for its LED headlights did the best among all the top 10 spots in the 2012 Big Game, ranking 7th for Most Liked, according to Nielsen consumer research the best showing for any carmaker. The commercial was certainly over the top and tapped into the nation’s current craze for vampires.

Audi also ranked highly in my 2011 review. 

It was good to see American Honda Motor Co. raising the creative bar for both its brands in the Super Bowl. The Honda CR-V commercial starred Matthew Broderick spoofing his role in the flick “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

The commercial was one of the best from RPA in Santa Monica for Honda in a long time and blew away the earlier launch work for the CR-V. The spot ranked 10th Most Liked among all Super Bowl ads by Nielsen research,.

The automaker’s first-ever Super Bowl commercial for Acura was also a hit. In the Big Game, a media outlet where advertisers need to go big or be invisible, Acura met the challenge with a funny spot for the NSX starring funny men and car nuts Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno. USA Today’s AdMeter, based on consumer voting for their favorite Super Bowl ad on Facebook in 2012, ranked Acura’s spot number 13 and Honda’s 16.

Unfortunately, Honda and Acura’s over-the-top Super Bowl commercials weren’t enough to keep their ad agencies, RPA and sibling rp&, both in Santa Monica, out of the hot seat. Both accounts recently went into review.

Toyota Motor USA’s Lexus brand also made some inroads into improving creative with the launch of the new 2013 ES and first ES Hybrid. One of the launch commercials, dubbed “Split World” grabbed your attention with special effects and a script that made sense. Bravo to Brian Smith, VP-marketing at Lexus and kudos to Team One

Sister brand Toyota still isn’t there yet. But Toyota’s “Real Owners. Real Stories” TV commercial for the Camry, with online video assets and accompanying web site is not only well done, but is getting tons of input. Toyota figured out how to tweak a year-old site for the Camry launch and took it up a few notches

When it comes to Ford Motor Co., its Ford brand has had some of the most consistent work in the category all year. The advertising from TeamDetroit in Dearborn is visually interesting, makes relevant points and is strategic without shoving people’s faces into it.

Take this launch commercial for the 2013 Fusion. Great way to bring to life the Big Idea of standing out from rivals, which disappear.

Let’s look at Hyundai Motor America. After a pretty decent run with some of the best ads in the industry, seems too many of Hyundai’s ads are getting a bit formulaic. The brand’s Super Bowl commercials, from Innocean Worldwide Americas in Huntington Beach, California, were nothing to write home about.

There are some signs of improvement with the September launch work for the 2013 Sante Fe, themed “Don’t Tell” mom or dad

Shows there are still signs of creative life at the ad agency and at Hyundai.

I’d like to recognize Cadillac as one of the most improved auto advertisers. After a less-than-stellar appearance in the 2012 Super Bowl, General Motors’ lux brand blew out of the gates with impressive summer launch work for the new ATS compact sedan. The work, from Fallon, Minneapolis, was themed “Cadillac ATS vs. The World,” showing how the car performs on some of the ing on and some of the planet’s wildest and most challenging roads. Cadillac smartly posted lots of behind-the-scenes videos on YouTube, as well as links on Facebook and elsewhere.

Keep it up! We’d like to see all of Cadillac’s sibling brands take it up a notch also. Although there were some break-out ads for Chevrolet last year, there simply haven’t been enough of them.

Note to GM and its ad chiefs: Please take some risks!

Looking forward to seeing more break-through work from all auto advertisers in this New Year.

MAKING TRACKS: Steve Rosenblum recently started as general manager of Publicis Kaplan Thaler in Manhattan, which handles the account for the Tri State Honda Dealers Association. Rosenblum had been consulting since leaving General Motors in late 2011 after 15 years in various ad and marketing positions.

Follow me, Jean Halliday, on LinkedIn and Facebook

and on Twitter @jhal2001

Auto Ad World Loses Great Ad Man

Dick Johnson, a larger-than-life auto advertising giant, passed away this week after a long battle with cardiac issues. Johnson retired from BBDO Detroit in 2001 in his late 50s as chairman-chief creative officer, just a few years after the Germans at Daimler had acquired and taken control of Chrysler Corp.

Here he is in his BBDO creative “war room” in a photo from Paul Stenquist, who worked for Dick and remained his friend.

 

   I met Johnson in 1999 during an interview scheduled for an hour in his spacious BBDO office, then in Southfield. It lasted 5 hours. We drank a lot of Pepsi while we talked and watched a lot of reels. He started the session with his early years. His fifth grade teacher told him he had talent after seeing a poster he did. He took that to heart. “I’m not a natural leader. I’m a complainer,” he quipped, telling me his high school year book dubbed him as “a big letter man” (he played 4 sports) who “complains about everything.”

Johnson majored in English at Bucknell in Pennsylvania, where he also played football. Johnson, recalling having to watch game videos of himself and his Bucknell team, told me “if you don’t run your pattern everyone laughs, so you’re really playing for the camera.” He added “a good way to live your life is act as if you’re being videotaped.”

After graduating, Johnson taught composition at the prestigious Parsons School of Design in New York for a year before coming to Detroit as a copywriter in 1964 for Ross Roy Communications.

Johnson didn’t suffer fools lightly and he wasn’t a fan of New Yorkers trying to handle car accounts. He was a smart and witty ad man who worked at eight ad agencies on various car accounts, including Buick and Pontiac, as well as non-car brand like Texaco and Tampax. He had three tours of duty at BBDO.

“The hardest thing I do is guys fill the room with their work and I go over it script by script,” he told me. “I have to find the merit in the work and what’s harder is if it’s not there what can we do to get it there.”

Johnson said his first big campaign presentation to a client was in 1977 for the Dodge Omni, when he pitched the Big Idea “It Does It All.”  But in 1979, BBDO lost the Chrysler account, when Chairman Lee Iacocca moved it to Kenyan & Eckardt. Johnson moved to Doner’s Baltimore office.

He came back to BBDO Detroit in 1982 on the Dodge account and wanted to use all red cars in ads. He didn’t win that battle then. He quit in ’85 and joined Saatchi & Saatchi Compton as creative director on AMC’s Jeep account. He started a “no people rule” for the launch of the new Jeep Comanche because “I wanted to make Jeep a magical brand.” He said “if you try to define a brand by the characters of the drivers, you’ve lost the magic.”

He brought that philosophy to BBDO Detroit when he returned in 1991 as vice chairman and chief creative officer on the Dodge accounts. His challenge: to launch the all-new Intrepid in 1993. That was the start of red cars and title cards for Dodge, with “This Changes Everything” as the campaign’s theme in eight TV spots. They hired actor Ed Herrmann as narrator and he hardly ever appeared on screen. Nearly every ad was shot in a studio no matter which model.

Here’s one for the Durango

Back then, Johnson was doing what most of the other car companies weren’t smart ad campaigns with a consistent look and feel. Sounds simple, but lots of other automakers had very different-looking ads for the same models. Johnson also convinced Dodge officials to get regional dealer ad associations to use the same national work for a more unified brand message. Again, sounds simple, but many carmakers had different shops doing work for the retailers’ regional groups.

When Chrysler called a big shoot-out for the 1994 launch of the ’95 Plymouth and Dodge Neon model, Johnson and his team bested Bozell, which handled Chrysler, Plymouth, Jeep and Eagle. Chrysler used BBDO’s friendly “Hi” blitz for both brands’ look-alike Neons. Johnson said BBDO’s two years of Gen X research gave the creative team the right insight for the ads. Take a look

By the later part of the ’90s BBDO was winning all kinds of recognition for its Dodge advertising, including Effies, Mobius, and International Broadcast Awards. More importantly, Johnson & his band of creatives were helping to rebuild the Dodge brand. He was promoted to president of BBDO Detroit, a job he told me he didn’t really want, but took it “because I didn’t want someone over me.”

He described his management style as giving his creatives “a gymnasium to play in instead of a closet.” And Johnson believed “clients shouldn’t be creative directors; they should be satisfied with their agency making very accurate recommendations based on fact.”  He also told me “one of the greatest sins in this business is the piracy of taking credit for something you didn’t do.” Yes, he had high standards and ethics – for himself and his team.

Maybe that’s why the guy was so well liked.  BBDO grad Stenquist recalled that Johnson was” loved by both his clients and staff” and  knew how to get the best from his creative team. Stenquist added Johnson would “stay out of our way until he sensed it was time to get involved, then he’d simply say ‘let’s gather.'”

Perhaps Brad Thomas, CEO of Jupiter, a creative rep firm  outside of Detroit said it best: “We have lost an advertising legend.”

AUTOMAKERS UNVEIL SUPER BOWL ADS

 

The countdown clock is ticking until the kick-off of Super Bowl XLVI and more auto advertisers are revealing their Game Day commercials. Noticeably absent in the pre-game hype- AGAIN this year- is Chrysler Group. Last year, Chrysler was mum until its 2-minute “Imported From Detroit” spot for the Chrysler 200 aired during the game. Sometimes surprises are good. This year, Chrysler will have a :90 commercial that we’ll all just have to wait to see.

American Honda Motor unleashed a long version of its Super Bowl commercial, starring actor Matthew Broderick in a modern-day version of his movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

This 2:25 video shows Broderick calling in sick and escaping in his all-new, fourth-generation 2012 Honda CR-V to have some fun.

This is a fun spot that’s bound to break through the clutter during the Big Game this Sunday. Honda’s longtime agency, RPA in Santa Monica, tapped big-time director Todd Phillips (The Hangover, Old School) for this work.

The commercial is one of the best RPA has done for Honda in a long time and is far and away superior to the first launch work for the new CR-V that broke at the start of the year, including this one from RPA, called “Proposal”

Honda’s CR-V Super Bowl commercial is also tied into the Leaplist. Honda.com site, where there’s a CR-V Leap Year Contest to win a new CR-V and other prizes. Honda has smartly tied in with social media, encouraging its Facebook fans to find and comment on the dozens of “Easter eggs” in the spot reminiscent of the original Bueller flick. That link is http://www.facebook.com/hondacrv

And here comes the Toyota brand, which is advertising in the Super Bowl for the first time in three years.

Toyota is pushing the seventh-generation 2012 Camry with this entertaining commercial called “Reinvented” from Saatchi & Saatchi Los Angeles

Although this version is a minute long, this spot will be sliced to a :30 commercial for the Super Bowl and one of two :30s the brand will have in the game. Toyota says this commercial is scheduled to air in the third quarter and will be backed by a social media play kicking off after the spot airs. Viewers will be encouraged to go to Twitter and tweet with the #Reinvented hashtag about what they’d like to see reinvented. Toyota will respond to select tweets in real time with a creative depiction of that idea.
Toyota doesn’t have a history of exciting advertising, so this one is a breath of fresh air.

Not so for Kia, which has only released a sexy teaser for its Super Bowl commercial, starring Victoria Secret model Adriana Lima for the new Optima

We’ll see if the old adage “Sex Sells” works for Kia in this case. Don’t bet on it. We much prefer Kia’s “Epic” entry in last year’s Super Bowl for the Optima, also from DavidandGoliath in Los Angeles.

Kia’s affiliate, Hyundai is back for its fifth straight year as a Big Game advertiser. Hyundai said it will have five spots on game day: two during the pre-game, one in pre-kick slot and two in the game. Innocean Worldwide Americas in Huntington Beach, California, is the brand’s creative agency of record.

Hyundai is using the very-recognizable and uplifting theme from the movie “Rocky” for this minute-long spot, called “All For One,” about team work at its Montgomery, Alabama plant

Then there’s this one, called “Think Fast,” for the 2013 Genesis Coupe, which comes with a 348-horsepower, V-6 engine

How about this one for the 201-horsepower Veloster Turbo?

Sorry, but a guy getting mauled by a cheetah isn’t that funny.

Hyundai is also patting itself on the back for its big win for the 2012 Elantra as Car of the Year at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit earlier this month with this commercial, called “Victory Lap”

Look for that one to air sometime before the game starts.

Lastly is Cadillac, which is pre-launching its new ATS with this snoozer called “Green Hell” from Fallon

There are certainly a lot of car ads made at Germany’s Nürburgring, so this commercial won’t break through the clutter. If you’re going to advertiser in the Super Bowl- Go Big or don’t bother!

Late Edition Addition: Honda’s Acura brand is pulling out all the stops for its first appearance as a Super Bowl advertiser. The brand has a minute-long spot featuring Jerry Seinfeld, who tries his hardest to move from number 20 to first on the list to get the new, upcoming 2012 NSX. There’s appearances by the Soup Nazi, Jay Leno, an, an alien and dancing holographic monkeys. You can see the longer 1:52 version here

Acura says it wants to strengthen its brand awareness. No doubt. The brand sold 123,299 new vehicles in the USA last year, an 8% drop from 2010.

The spot, called “Transactions,” was created by Acura’s agency rp&, a sibling of Honda’s longtime shop RP&A in Santa Monica.

OUCH! And Chevrolet has taken direct aim at Volkswagen’s already-released Big Game commercial teaser, with dogs barking out Star Wars’ theme song.

General Motors’ volume brand has uploaded a dog video of its own, from the popular OK Go group. Chevy teamed with the band for a new MTV video arriving this weekend featuring the Sonic. Chevy doesn’t call out VW by name, but in describing the video on YouTube says “we’ve all seen videos with talented dogs. Chevrolet’s favorite came from OK Go last year.”

Let the game begin!

(See my earlier posts for Chevrolet, Volkswagen, Lexus and Suzuki’s Bowl entries)

MAKING TRACKS: Anthony Kuhn joined Everist Genomics Inc as Director of Strategic Alliances. Tony has lots of ad agency experience, having worked at TBWA, Lowe and Bozell.

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