Sergio Marchionne got Chrysler dealers from across America fired up this week by pulling the wraps off dozens of potential new models and variations of vehicles that are in the pipeline for the next few years, including aerodynamic versions of current best-selling nameplates for Jeep, a vastly improved Chrysler 200 sedan, and an all-new Chrysler 100 subcompact that would fill a niche where the brand hasn't had a credible entry for decades.
But most of the hardware that the Fiat and Chrysler CEO showed off in Las Vegas is for the future. Right now, with double-digit sales increases each month, Chrysler has been doing a great job of selling just a very few all-new or substantially overhauled models along with others that are mainly reskinned. And one reason they've been so successful is some innovative marketing.
Chrysler launched a new initiative in that regard during Fashion Week in New York, introducing a new Chrysler 300C John Varvatos Limited Edition and a Chrysler 300C Luxury Edition featuring the stylings and touches of the menswear (and now kids) designer. A native of Detroit, Varvatos was featured in a TV campaign for his 300 collaboration with the automaker.
The Limited Edition 300 will feature unique exterior appointments, a combination of dark colors and exotic interior materials, all tied in with Varvatos's signature design language for a "Detroit-tough attitude," the company said in a press release. The Luxury Edition includes Dark Mocha or Black ultra-premium Poltrona Frau "Foligno" leather and hand-sanded matte wood all finished with "world-class craftsmanship and Platinum Chrome exterior detail for a confident on Fifth Avenue look."
Oh, those designers and their attitudes. Automakers have sought to tap into them for decades, going back, for example, to an Eddie Bauer-branded models for Ford. More recently, Victoria Beckham was a "guest designer" for a version of the Range Rover Evoque.
For his part, Varvatos "exemplifies many of the values that the Chrysler Brand reveres," the press release said. "He's shown what a blue-collar attitude can do in a white-collar world, and is living proof that style and luxury can come from a place like the Motor City."
So, while Chrysler lately has backed away a bit from the positioning of the "Imported From Detroit" tagline and campaign that launched with the Eminem commercial during the 2011 Super Bowl, it's not finished with Motown favorite son John Varvatos. And he isn't finished with them.
"It is a great time to for a new generation of Detroit leadership in the automotive world," the designer stated, "and I am excited and proud to be a part of it."
Earlier this year, the fashion designer spoke about collaborating with the Chrysler design team to create a one-of-a-kind Chrysler 300S to auction off for the 9th Annual Stuart House Benefit: