With its Eminem commercial during the Super Bowl for the new 200 sedan, and for the reinvented company, Chrysler brand CMO Olivier Francois put a stake in the ground around a bold new positioning he called “Imported from Detroit.”
It worked. The first of a series of planned new offerings under the Chrysler-brand wing-spread logo, sales of the 200 in April were up 23% over March, and Chrysler reportedly is considering adding a shift at the Michigan plant that assembles the model. Even more important, the Chrysler brand and product line has returned to the national buzz — in a highly positive sense — less than two years after the company took a federal-government bailout and turned itself over to Fiat.
Now, Francois is attempting to move that stake out a bit further with a new campaign for the new 300 sedan that builds on the "Imported from Detroit" positioning.
When Chrysler rolled out a completely new model under its venerable 300 nameplate in 2004 under the ownership of Daimler-Benz, the popularity of its ground-breaking “gangster” styling nearly rescued Chrysler singlehandedly – at least for a while. What Chrysler is attempting with a new, redesigned version of that 300 will probably be more about the marketing than the car.
“American coolness is essential to our strategy, because that’s exactly what imports do not have, and some other American [luxury] brands don’t have as well, with cars that are a little bit commoditized,” Francois told brandchannel. “I want to de-commoditize our brand, and give it the kind of confident coolness and appeal that works.”
So in a TV campaign that is just now fully breaking for the 300, Chrysler is positing the idea of “earned luxury” rather than the born-to kind. And Francois wanted to leverage, yet also extend, the “Imported from Detroit” idea of local pride. So this latest campaign features three men with ties to Detroit – but also from other worlds that Chrysler wants to reach with the new car and its attempts to reposition the Chrysler brand upscale.
The three include Ndamukong Suh (at top), the all-pro, second-year defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions, who drives through his hometown of Portland, Ore., “retracing his humble beginnings” in a 300, as Chrysler put it.
John Varvatos (below) is a Detroit native and now New York City-based men’s fashion designer, who is seen “seeking inspiration” at a Brooklyn record store and then heading out in his 300.
And Dr. Dre is to be seen in a spot this summer, driving in Los Angeles in a 300 that includes a new audio system based on his Beats by Dr. Dre branded sound system for the 2012 Chrysler 300S. Dre gets out of the 300 at a club and delivers a line reminiscent of one of the highlights of the Eminem commercial: “This is L.A. and this is what we do.”
Will it work for Chrysler to try to keep one tire in Detroit and the other three all over the map? American car buyers will let us know.