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Chrysler puts kibosh on Jeep dealers’ “Import” campaign

by Bill Cawthon on

Writing in today’s Toledo Blade, Larry Vellequette reports that Chrysler Group has told a couple of Jeep dealers they can’t use “Imported from Toledo” to promote Jeep, even though the company has no rights in or ownership of the phrase.

Ralph Mahalak, Jr., owner of Monroe Dodge Superstore in Monroe, Michigan, had a batch of T-shirts imprinted with “Imported from Toledo” and a stylized image of the Jeep grille with “Jeep 70th Anniversary” to sell at his dealership. The T-shirts were priced at $19.41, to commemorate the year the Jeep went into production, with proceeds of the sales going to three local charities.

Grogan’s Towne Chrysler Jeep Dodge of Toledo and Charlie’s Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram of Maumee decorated a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited with “Imported from Toledo” on its doors and had it driven on the ice during intermissions in Toledo Walleyes hockey games.

Both Mahalak and Denny Armhein, managing partner of both the Grogan’s Towne and Charlie’s dealerhips came up with their ideas independently. Monroe is located in southeastern Michigan while Toledo and Maumee are in northern Ohio, not far from the the Ohio-Michigan border.

A spokesman for Chrysler Group said, that while the company had no rights to the phrase, its use in promoting Jeep could dilute Chrysler’s “Imported from Detroit” tagline.

As the result of an agreement with Chrysler Group, Mahalak is giving the T-shirts away with a Jeep test drive while Armhein plans to copyright “Made in Toledo” because of positive customer feedback.

The read the entire article, visit the Toledo Blade’s Automotive section.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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