Chrysler keeps it simple for brand identity

How does a corporate brand with a dozen-odd products each aimed at a different demographic develop an overall image?...

How does a corporate brand with a dozen-odd products each aimed at a different demographic develop an overall image?

The answer, according to DaimlerChrysler Canada, is keep your message simple, which is exactly what the Windsor, Ont., automaker has attempted with its first-ever brand advertising campaign.

‘We’ve had trouble getting our arms around a product line and a brand as large as Chrysler,’ admits Ron Smith, VP, marketing. ‘There was no common theme that tied all of the vehicles within the Chrysler family together.’

After much head-scratching, the car manufacturer finally came up with a solution – a new, long-term thematic campaign with the all-encompassing tagline, ‘This is my car.’

Parent company DaimlerChrysler Worldwide, which expects a first quarter operating loss between euro 3.8 billion and euro 4.3 billion (Cdn$2.7 billion to $3 billion) this year, has 11 Chrysler products under its umbrella, ranging from the lower-end Neon to the all-wheel-drive Town & Country minivan. While Jeep and Dodge have solid brand personalities, says Smith, that wasn’t the case with Chrysler. ‘In the past we did a lot of random ads,’ he says. ‘It was time to establish a unifying theme to build awareness and improve the Chrysler image.’

With 10% market share in a jammed sedan category that becomes more crowded every year, the Canadian company hopes to increase awareness among consumers by fostering more of an emotional attachment to the Chrysler name. ‘People look at vehicles not just as a commodity, but also as a part of who they are,’ says Smith. ‘That’s what we’re trying to convey here.’

The national effort, created by Toronto shop BBDO, switched into gear last month with two 30-second spots for the Chrysler Sebring, as well as a series of print ads for the Sebring, 300M sedan and Town & Country minivan.

In one commercial, a car manoeuvres through a cross-section of curvy roads. Sound all-too familiar? Well, this time the camera is the vehicle, meaning you don’t even glimpse the car for most of the spot – only pretty, backroads scenery as it whizzes by. The Sebring doesn’t come in until the end, when a young, stylish woman stands beside her coupe. Then she proudly states: ‘This is my daily commute. This is my car.’

Sebring designer Joe Dehner kicks and punches empty cardboard boxes in another spot. He ‘hates boxes.’ No

matter what flashy names they’ve adopted, he points out, ‘when you get right down to it, they’re still boxes.’ In the end, he introduces the sleek silver Sebring and boasts, ‘This is my car.’ Both ads play on popular TV shows like The West Wing, Friends and Survivor.

This month, four magazine ads also debuted in the likes of Maclean’s, Canadian Living and Canadian House & Home, featuring individual owners leaning on their Chryslers. Each includes a handwritten message. In one, a mom who happily introduces her Town & Country minivan lists off all the places she drives the kids. Then she writes, ‘I figure if you’re going to be treated like a personal chauffeur, the least you can do is have a limo,’ and finishes off, of course, with ‘This is my car.’

New ads will roll out throughout the year, with a TV spot for the futuristic-looking PT cruiser next on the schedule. ‘This is a theme we could start today and keep long-term,’ says Smith. ‘Consumers will eventually start connecting the dots, and realize what the brand stands for: passion and excitement.’

Reality Check: ‘It does not stand for passion and excitement,’ says Marc Stoiber, VP, executive CD at Toronto-based agency Grey Worldwide, who says he appreciated the ‘boxes’ spot nonetheless. ‘It feels to me like this designer cuts through all the clutter and bullshit and says, ‘I don’t like to be boxed in.’ I think they did a nice clean ad that talks to people and not at people.’ As for the unifying tagline, ‘This Is My Car,’ Stoiber calls it a ‘bit derivative,’ but says the uncomplicated message is a benefit. ‘If they could keep the tone of voice simple and human, that will be their brand,’ he says.

Credits:

Client: DaimlerChrysler Canada

Agency: BBDO

Creative Directors: Jack Neary, Michael McLaughlin,

Steve Denvir and Mike Smith

Art Director: Mike Smith

Copywriter: Steve Denvir

Account Director: Mark Wilson

Account Supervisor: Andrea Novak

Media: Television and print