Charlie Cook On Air: Chrysler and Advertising

Newsflash: Advertising works!

I guess those of us in radio have always known that. Otherwise why would we be playing 10-20 commercials per hour?

Chrysler Motors has discovered this recently. Considered the little sister of the Big Three automakers, Chrysler was way behind in the perception of the car buying public.

I grew up in Detroit and as a kid Chrysler was always behind GM and Ford. General Motors was SOOOOO big and Ford was the local company.

Chrysler tried so many things to chase primarily Ford. They went the muscle car route chasing the Mustang and then they finally hired Lee Iacocca after he left Ford. Mr. Iacocca went in a different direction and basically invented the minivan taking Chrysler to a specific winning position. (I understand that Mr. Iacocca was not the designer of the minivan but without his support it would have never happened.)

Fast forward to the last five years as the auto industry hit the skids. Radio was one of the biggest losers in this fall. Less car sales means less advertising. Less advertising means less disc jockeys. (It will be interesting to see if more car sales and thus more advertising means more disc jockeys. HAHAHA I crack myself up).

Two of the three American automakers took financial support from the US government in order to get through these bad times. Chrysler was one of the two and their future really did look gloomy.

But something has happened that has lifted Chrysler ahead of GM. Chrysler does not seem to be as stained with the bailout as GM, derisively referred to as Government Motors.

What has helped Chrysler climb out of the basement? Good ole advertising.

A lot of people will look back to the Clint Eastwood spot during the Super Bowl as a reason for the success but a recent survey found that this was more of a negative than a positive for Chrysler. The spot certainly got America’s attention but some thought that it was more a political endorsement than a car commercial.

Getting everyone’s attention was worth the effort though, as Chrysler got on people’s radar. Once the car buying public was attuned to Chrysler again their marketing started to make inroads.

You cannot sell something to someone unless you get their attention. Running a spot, any spot, in the Super Bowl will usually get people’s attention.

The car company launched a huge “comeback” theme campaign and introduced 16 new or redesigned models in the last couple of years. They had a lot to talk about and this has translated into a 25% increase in sales last year and just as importantly an increase in positive opinion with potential car buyers. The more often you see a Chrysler product on the road the better you feel about the car and it opens your mind to purchasing one.

A survey company named YouGov calculates a buzz score for products. Their results measure the difference between the positive and negative things people are saying about a company.

This month Chrysler measured a +17. The scale goes from -100 to +100 so +17 is better than it sounds.  And the +17 was good enough to best GM’s +15. Ford is at +37.

And to put this in better perspective, three years ago Chrysler scored -41.

This 57 point swing tells us that the trend for Chrysler is very good and you will begin seeing even more Dodge and Jeep products on the road. You will also be hearing more Chrysler advertising on the radio and that is good for us.


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