Posted by Dale Buss on October 12, 2012 03:31 PM
Chrysler was relying on smoke and mirrors for a while as it bid to come back in 2009 and 2010 from its bankruptcy and rescue by the U.S. taxpayer and Fiat.
But increasingly the company is turning out worthy brand-new or substantially overhauled models, such as the Dodge Dart and the new Chrysler 300 and Jeep Grand Cherokee. And it's those new vehicles that are fueling the company's continuing ability to post year-over-year healthy monthly sales increases after many pundits thought the strong comparisons of 2011 would be too much for Chrysler to overcome.
To build on that momentum, Chrysler is developing what it's calling "buzz packages" — special versions of nameplates that connect in a pyschographic or marketing sense with subsets of the overall markets for its increasingly successful nameplates. In its buzziest buzz package, Chrysler will roll out an 8 Mile edition of the Chrysler 200 sedan in partnership with Eminem.
The rapper, who starred in the brand's iconic 2011 Super Bowl commercial that kicked off a wider "Imported From Detroit"-taglined campaign, is collaborating with the automaker on the special edition to mark the 10th anniversary of his movie, 8 Mile. A Chrysler 300 Motown sedan is a cross-marketing tie-in with the Broadway show Motown: The Musical, CMO Olivier Francois told Bloomberg.
Also coming soon: a Glacier edition of the 300 sedan featuring an active transfer case and front-axle-disconnect system that allows the car to transition between rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive without any action by the driver, according to Bloomberg; it'll be aimed at all-weather markets such as Denver. And it's already promoting not one but two special editions of the 300C designed by John Varvatos, the Detroit native and menswear designer.
While "special editions" are a staple of the auto industry, as part of its vow to roll out 66 new models over the next few years, Chrysler is becoming a major exponent of the practice. As Francois told Bloomberg, “If you wanted to change the conversation about Chrysler — Chrysler the bailout company, Chrysler the Detroit company — we had to change the conversation about Detroit itself. We needed to give Detroit credit for what it really does stand for.”
Now that Chrysler has more than smoke and mirrors to work with in new models, including some platforms from partner Fiat, the company's lineup will be more formidable than in many years — maybe ever.