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Selling Dodge

The following question is multiple choice. Please answer honestly.

When you hear the following words, what is your mostly likely reaction?

'Tax, title and license extra. Dealer contribution may affect payment. Payment based on 12,000 miles a year allowance with $1498 due at signing. Lease based on approved credit through preferred sources. Offer not valid in all areas. Void where prohibited. All taxes are the sole responsibility of the winner and may not be transferred to any other parties without the expressed written consent from you parents or high school teacher whichever comes first. Mail a 3 X 5 card with the odds of winning anything that even resembles this picture.....blah...blah....blah' "

  1. Turn the channel/station
  2. Nod off
  3. Listen intently
  4. Wonder aloud how anyone can talk that fast

Most people, and probably yourself, would pick any of these. Except C.

We are so inundated with this type of "marketing" so often that most never hear any of it. It doesn't really matter whose product, what model, what price/payment, it is simply tuned out because people don't want to hear it. People don't buy payments, they buy products. They buy an image. They communicate to others through their purchases. What it costs becomes secondary. If they don't buy it, they either didn't want it or they do want it but can't afford it.

Marketing vehicles seems bent on the second part of the equation. Make it affordable or make it at least sound affordable. They seem to anticipate this reaction:

"Wow! A new Pontiac Sunfire for ONLY $199 a month!?!"

What actually happens is this:

"Why would I spend any money on a car I don't want to own?"

The problem is everyone markets like this these days so everyone else follows suit.

Until a fresh breeze blew through....

And of all things it was for Dodge.

A couple weeks back, I was laid over in Beaumont, Texas and watching Millionaire to past the time and unwind. During a break, the commercial came on and lasted about 60 seconds. Not having seen this particular spot elsewhere in the country, I don't know if it is regional or national but it did have the style of a national (expensive) spot.

*Opening. Shot of Red Viper GTS traveling down desert two-lane highway.*
*background music: Steppenwolf's "Magic Carpet Ride"*
*continue shots of Viper at dusk (low-light) driving through rocky, barren area through twisting roads*
*vary camera angles from ground level to aerial pans.*
*End- Dodge. Different. screen*

This spot blew me away. Not because it was the first time I had seen a Viper in its OWN commercial. This wasn't even a Viper commercial. It was the commercial I have been waiting for Chrysler to make.


Not a car, not a payment, not a lease or a warranty.

In fact, that was what distinguished this spot from ALL others. Not what it had, but what it didn't have.

No pitch. No numbers. No voice over. No spokesman (sorry, Mr. Hermann) Nothing that detracted from the purpose of the spot:


God! Finally! Hope is renewed! Somebody, somewhere looked at the real world and saw the cart was in front of the horse. You can't sell something to a buyer that they don't want. Solution? Make it "wantable". Stir and create desire. Make people consider you a candidate in helping project their OWN image. Not the corporate image.

This commercial won't make people run out to buy Vipers. It might not even sell any Neons or Intrepids either. But it creates a groundwork for establishing/re-establishing the Dodge image and brand. A high-performance, exhilarating driving experience. The image is cast. Now....

the product is needed to back up the image. And every product will need to adhere to that image.

The Intrepid's 3.5L needs more power to rise above the Impala, the Crown Vic and the Avalon. The Stratus sedan needs to go faster, quicker than the Taurus, Accord or Camry. The Stratus coupe needs to have more power that than the sedan. REAL coupes ALWAYS do. The Neon needs the turbo 2.4. The SVT Focus, Civic Si, and Sentra SE-R Spec-v will kicks its tail.

The image is set. Go back it up. Need help? Gimme a call.

We make no guarantees regarding validity or accuracy of information, predictions, or advice — see the terms of use and privacy policy. Copyright © 1994-2000, David Zatz; copyright © 2001-2017, Allpar LLC (except as noted, and press/publicity materials); all rights reserved. Dodge, Jeep, Chrysler, Ram, and Mopar are trademarks of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

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