Chrysler Group is really pushing the 2011 Dodge Durango, which went on sale earlier this year after a two-year absence from the market. Dodge issued a press release Aug. 4 touting the arrival of a slew of new television ads and online videos for the new Dodge Durango.
Actually, the most recent Durango commercial broke July 12 during baseball’s All Star Game.
That ad, called “Long Lost Performance,” does indeed spotlight Durango’s performance
Dodge also uploaded that commercial on YouTube July 12. It seems the automaker wasn’t too thrilled that the ad had attracted under 25,000 views, so it issued the press release on Aug.4.
There’s already been some blogosphere banter about how the first commercial is too focused on performance. I have different issues with the campaign.
What’s interesting is Dodge’s blurb on YouTube about this spot: “With crossovers trying to convince drivers that cars can be SUVs and with SUVs hiding out pretending to be minivans, the Durango commits to being a true SUV.”
As you can see the ad blitz for the Durango by Wieden + Kennedy, based in Portland, is themed “The SUV is back.”
The critics focusing on the performance matter are off base. The real issues are:
A) The Durango is NOT an SUV according to industry definitions
B) The SUV is NOT back.
Let’s start with A. The new Durango still looks like an SUV, except gone is its old body-on-frame truck base. Now the Durango sits on a car-like unibody.
And on the B issue, there is NO WAY sport utes are ever going to be as strong as they were in their heyday.
Between 1997 and 2002, sales of sport utes jumped 56%, or one for every eight licensed American drivers, according to the Census Bureau. Or, in raw numbers, there were more than 24-million suvs in 2002 than 1997, when there were 15 million on the road.
Sales of truck-based SUVs peaked in 2000 at nearly 3 million units and in 2002, utes were villified by religious groups that launched a “What Would Jesus Drive” campaign against them. Critics blasted the big suvs for hurting the environment and cited the gass guzzlers as the key reason Uncle Sam was fighting in the Middle East.
Volatile gas prices starting in 2006 and escalating in 2008 pretty much put the final kabosh on big truck-based utes, when owners bailed out of the segment faster than anytime in history.
So let’s call it already– the SUV is dead!
HOWEVER, its car-based cousin, the crossover, is picking up the slack. Yeah, the semantics matter little to many Americans since crossover utility vehicles, or CUVs, often LOOK like SUVs. The difference is CUVs are car-based, while SUVs are truck based.
But the Durango is really a CUV and calling it an SUV is midleading. It may have started out an SUV when it first debuted, but it isn’t anymore. The misnomer will cause more consumer confusion.
The new ads, which include online-only videos, includes this TV spot comparing the “luxurious” interior of the Durango to a certain high-performance car that rhymes with Merrari
Let’s not forget that Fiat now owns more than half of Chrysler Group and also owns Ferrari, the high-end car brand referred to in the commercial.
The new Durango blitz isn’t all about performance. Consider this online video touting the rain brake support safety feature
Of course the WORST Durango commercial ever – from GlobalHue – didn’t last on the air very long about five years ago
The other problem I have with these new spots is they don’t carry the same ending that Dodge launched at the Chicago Auto Show with much fan fare.
That’s a mysterious move since Dodge used the ending in this first Durango spot back in February hailing the model’s return
A missed branding opportunity.
The new Durango is much improved from its predecessor and deserves a more truthful ad campaign. And just saying “the SUV is back” doesn’t make it so.
MAKING TRACKS: Tim Boutorwick is now a product insight strategist as a contract staffer for Fallon’s Detroit office on the Cadillac account. Boutorwick has more than 20 years of auto agency experience. This is his third time in the last 5 years he’s worked on Caddy, first at Leo Burnett Detroit in Troy and then at Modernista, Boston.
Chrysler Group’s Ram truck brand (formerly part of Dodge) is using cowboys and the Old West for its new multi-media ad campaign. The work, from Richards Group in Dallas, introduces the new tag “Guts. Glory. Ram.” It replaces “I am Ram.”
The first :60 national intro commercial, dubbed “Code of the West,” sets the stage for the blitz
Too bad the pickup doesn’t show up until more than half-way into the commercial.
Cowbows aren’t a new Big Idea for truck advertising. It’s almost a bad cliché.
Chevrolet was big on it. Here’s one from Campbell-Ewald for the 1997 model Silverado
Even GM sibling Pontiac used cowboys – for the Montana minivan – in the late ’90s to try to be more appealing to men. D’Arcy, Masius, Benton & Bowles’ Detroit-area handled and used Robert Mitchum to narrate:
In probably the most bizarre use of cowboys to peddle a light truck, Mitsubishi had this spot for the 1998 Montero suv from G2, Santa Monica, which soon after, not surprisingly, lost the account
Who doesn’t love cowboys and the romance of the Old West? It’s rugged and oh, so American. And what’s not to like about actor Sam Elliott’s rich voice narrating the Ram commercials?
Olivier Francois, Chrysler Group’s French-born CMO, has a penchant for edgy work that generates buzz, a la Chrysler brand’s 200 Super Bowl “Imported From Detroit” commercial with Eminem. The official word from Francois on the new pickup work is : “the Ram Truck brand has always had the guts to perform and innovate – today, it continues to live by those rules and conducts. The brand’s outstanding craftsmanship and beliefs are delivered in this campaign by using the rustic Old West as the perfect juxtaposition of past and present American values; a time when hard working and well-crafted man-made machines were a must.”
That American craftsmanship idea, and the tone of the Ram ads, also run deep in the automaker’s Jeep advertising “The Things We Make, Make Us,” introduced a year ago for launch of the new Grand Cherokee by Wieden + Kennedy in Portland.
Ram does take the cowboy thing to a new level. This work is generally visually arresting and interesting. That said, the big question is can this cowboy theme be sustained for Ram? Will it last as long as “Like a Rock” for Chevrolet?
I think not.
MAKING TRACKS: Tim Ellis
has gone to California and joined Activision as exec VP and CMO from Volkswagen, where he had been VP of marketing since December 2007. We wondered here earlier this spring about his future at VW after Tim Mahoney split from Subaru of America to be VW’s CMO and chief product officer. Ellis was to report to Mahoney.
Follow me on Twitter: @jhal2001
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged advertising, Chrysler Group, cowboys, Guts. Glory, Jean Halliday, Jeep, Old West, Olivier Francois, Ram, Richards Group, Wieden + Kennedy
The first new TV commercial from Chevrolet ‘s new agency broke this week under the baton of General Motors’ new marketing czar Joel Ewanick.
It features Chevy’s slick Corvette, comparing the sports car that have made kids and grown men drool for decades to a rocket ship.
See for yourself:
Using a low-volume halo car like the Vette is a natural for any carmaker and can create a nice aura for the rest of a brand. Chevrolet has been remiss in not taking advantage of its venerated Vette very often in this way.
We especially like the folksy narrative at the start of the 45-second commercial, that broke during the MLB’s All-Star Game on July 13.
Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, just got Chevy’s account in late May without a review. Even before Joel’s arrival, Chevy had been trying to find a new ad tag that would capture the soul of the brand and replace “American Revolution.” Publicis, which basically had the account for a cup of coffee before Ewanick’s arrival, had dreamed up “Excellence for All.” Ewanick threw that out the window along with Publicis.
Chevy’s new commercial is already generating tons of controversy in the ether. While the spot has its fans, there’s also critics who say it’s too similar to the launch ad for the all-new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, from that brand’s new shop Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, which focused on pride in American manufacturing.
One ad agency exec with a major car account told me if he was Joel, he would have pulled the new Chevy commercial before it aired because Wieden’s Jeep ads were already out there and the executions are so similar.
Easy to say. Not so easy to do. The time had already been bought on ESPN. Not only that, Chevrolet really needs to get back in front of consumers again.
Sometimes you take a wild shot and hope it goes in the basket.
It’s not as if Goodby & Co. copied Wieden’s approach. The story boards were most likely already approved and production well on its way by the time the Grand Cherokee ads broke about a month ago.
Let’s give ’em a chance. The real litmus test will be the MAJOR blitz due this fall for Chevrolet from Goodby. Stay tuned.
Meantime, watch the Jeep Grand Cherokee commercial:
What’s your verdict?
KUDOS: To Shaun Bugbee, VP-sales and marketing for Mini Financial Services for challenging his team to make the dry topic of aftermarket insurance services entertaining. The result: a viral video for Mini’s Extended Motorer Protection, created by P3 Entertainment Manhattan, that earned a recent Telly Award.
Check it out – and let me know what you think.
Minivans copped a bad rap earlier this decade. As SUVs became the industry’s darling growth segment, giving owners the feeling of cool, active, outdoorsy hipsters, the family hauler was maligned as mom-mobiles driven by soccer moms. Sales plummeted and GM and Ford exited the category.
Now here comes Dodge with a new twist on minivan advertising, usually depicted by young families with smiling kiddies, in three TV commercials from Dodge’s new creative shop Wieden + Kennedy in Portland.
To say Wieden’s new work is different is an understatement. (By the way- remember when the Dodge brand actually used “Different” as ad ad tag in 1999? It didn’t last long).
The minivan is black, driving across a desert in two spots. One spot has all men in it; another all men with a female driver. The music and overall look are in the spy genre.
This one, called “Kittens” is downright creepy:
This one, dubbed “Turncoats,” is mystifying:
This is the best of the bunch :
That one’s called “Why.”
Well, Dodge is repeating something Pontiac (remember Pontiac?) tried in the late ’90s for its minivan in a move to attract more men or at least more male approval. First called the Trans Sport, Pontiac changed the model name to Montana, formerly just a trim level, for the ’97 model year. D’Arcy, Masius, Benton & Bowles’ Detroit office created ads for the minivan with cowboys, themed “Life’s More Exciting in Montana.” Voiceover by late actor Robert Mitchum.
The strategy worked.
In a survey of families shopping for minivans in June 1999 by CNW Marketing Research, Montana was far and away the top choice by men, topping Detroit’s rivals’ top three models.
We wish Dodge the same results.