Chrysler imports a bold attitude for newest campaign

This post continues my series of posts outlining current TV commercials and what makes them so excellent from a public relations perspective. Next up: “Chrysler imports a bold attitude for newest campaign” 

My first disclaimer: Chrysler’s “Imported from Detroit” commercial first premiered during the Superbowl and was greeted by both negative and positive reviews. However, Chrysler is still showing the ad on networks everywhere, and here are a few reasons why the ad showcases great PR practices…

It’s not news that Chrysler, along with GM, has faced a huge challenge since receiving federal bailout funds in 2009. That challenge is a combination of both issues and reputation management. In late 2008 and into 2009, the economy was shot, the unemployment rate was rising daily, and Americans were fed up with the unethical practices of big business and refused to spend (or weren’t able to afford) any money for unnecessary purchases. The American automobile producers, along with financial giants like AIG, took the brunt of these negative feelings and sentiments. For a PR professional, the future of Chrysler was looking grim.

So, they accepted federal bailout money and made a commitment to reinvigorate the economy of the Motor City by downsizing their operations, replacing leadership, and launching new products, notably ones which were more environmentally-friendly. Here in Newark, Del., we saw our own Chrysler plant, just across from campus, close down, putting thousands out of work. Chrysler had a lot of work to do. Their job was threefold — be fiscally responsible with their new-found financial assets (from a combination of both accepting the bailout money and later filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy), recreate a favorable opinion about Chrysler and the quality of its products, and persuade individuals to believe in, and ultimately purchase, their product.

Even before the onset of economic hardships in 2008, Chrysler and other American automobile producers were facing a major challenge — convincing individuals that American-made cars were just as good, and worth the status of, foreign-made cars. Companies like Ford had received reputations in which people associated the Ford brand with the slogan “Fix Or Repair Daily,” a negative stigma they couldn’t quite seem to shake. The glory days of the Motor City were long gone.

Fast forward to 2011. Chrysler comes off with a bold, somewhat pretentious, commercial series which features rapper Eminem and shamelessly addresses the “misconceptions” of the Motor City. They ask viewers, “What does a town that’s been to hell and back know about the finer things in life? Well, I’ll tell you. More than most. You see, it’s the hottest fires that make the hardest steel. And hard work and conviction and the know-how that runs generations deep. Every last one of us, that’s who we are.”

They speak to the working class. They speak to all the Americans who aren’t chasing the “American Dream” because instead they’re pinching pennies to feed their families. They speak to the wealthier class who regards these American-made cars as a poor substitute for their foreign-made rides. They don’t shy away from the negative stigmas that have plagued their company for years; instead, they address them in a straightforward manner, making no apologies but simultaneously asking viewers to rethink the Chrysler brand.

According to a recent report from Fox Business, Chrysler is “back from the dead,” having its most profitable quarter since 2006. Among other reasons, I believe Chrysler can thank their straightforward attitude (and perhaps Eminem’s “tough guy” guise) for pulling them out of the grave…

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About Abby Ecker

PR pro and healthy living blogger in the First State
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