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On eve of debut, Chrysler wonders how to promote new vans

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Promotion Problem
Minivan launch raises questions in Chrysler's marketing department
By MARY CONNELLY | Link to Original Article @ AutoWeek | Updated: 06/05/07, 8:52 am et
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DETROIT -- Chrysler group dealers start ordering the company's 2008 minivans this week, and Chrysler's promotion of the vehicles raises several major marketing questions.

For instance: In an era of crossovers and strong competition from Japanese automakers, how will the company position the redesigned Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country in the U.S. market? And how will the company better define and differentiate its brands?

Yet another question: Who will oversee the minivan launch? George Murphy, the Chrysler group's senior vice president of global brand marketing, resigned last week. The company has not named his successor.

The 2008 minivans represent "a big deal and a big opportunity" for Chrysler, says Bud Liebler, a former Chrysler executive who runs a strategic communications firm in suburban Detroit. Advertising should emphasize that "Chrysler is still the minivan king," he says.

Go-to vans

"The message they have to get out is that if you are in the market for a minivan, Chrysler is where you have to go first," Liebler told Automotive News. "This is not a design story. This is a story about interior functionality."

George Peterson, president of AutoPacific Inc., a consulting firm in suburban Los Angeles, says the minivan market "is going to be deteriorating." Chrysler faces strong competition from the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey, he says.

To meet that competition, Peterson says, Chrysler must define its redesigned minivans as benchmark vehicles with "a high value proposition."

The minivan launch comes at a time of turmoil for Chrysler's marketing operations. Chrysler CEO Tom LaSorda and dealers have complained that the company's recent advertising often did not include enough product information. BBDO Detroit is the Chrysler group's longtime ad agency.

Introducing the minivans enables Chrysler to strengthen its brand images, analysts say.

"Dodge is the strongest," Liebler says. "'Bold, powerful, capable' were the words used 15 years ago. They are still going that way. Jeep has gone astray, trying to be too many things to too many people.

"Chrysler is still trying to find its soul," he says. "What is its center? What is the core? I was there when the PT Cruiser was named a Chrysler, so I am not pointing fingers. But is it really a Chrysler, or does that confuse the brand?"

Peterson says: "Many folks don't know what the Chrysler brand is. Is it a luxury brand like Cadillac or a premium brand like Buick? It's like walking a tightrope.

"Chrysler had a great opportunity when they launched the 300 and 300C to establish the brand at a higher than premium level," Peterson says. "But they have precluded that with the Sebring and PT Cruiser in the lineup. The product line is too broad to pull off being a luxury brand."

Dealers' choice

John Schenden, a Denver dealer who sits on the Chrysler-Jeep National Dealer Council, says Chrysler group advertising should emphasize product features and price. "Show the vehicle as much as possible, interior and exterior," he says. "Have a short message on pricing or incentives."

Jim Arrigo, chairman of the Chrysler-Jeep National Dealer Council, says he expects advertising for Chrysler and Jeep to focus more on brand identity and vehicle nameplates and less on sales events and incentives.

"Bring the Chrysler brand back to what it was in the past," says Arrigo, who owns a Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep dealership in Palm Beach, Fla. "Try to get more passion back in the brand. People don't know about us, about the quality of the products we have."
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"Try to get more passion back in the brand. People don't know about us, about the quality of the products we have."

Oh Chrysler, how wrong you are with that statement! I'm sure besides myself, there are plenty of people that know about your quality. :lol:

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The T&C looks like a freakin Korean minivan. My GOD, Chrysler sucks.

EDIT: I'm referring to the picture at the linked article, not the one in the OP.

Edited by bowtie_dude
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why on earth are they using that old chopped photo when the pics of the 08 T&C are already out??????? :huh:

they aren't, threadstarter did.

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WOW a box on wheels, how original! I like the rounded look of their older models better than the square look they are using now! Ewwwww :P

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Edited by Pontiac Custom-S
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WOW a box on wheels, how original! I like the rounded look of their older models better than the square look they are using now! Ewwwww :P

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Dude, how many times are we going to beat this horse? It's a minivan not a Ferrari...function over form. Let's not forget a box is more space efficient than a sphere.

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Dude, how many times are we going to beat this horse? It's a minivan not a Ferrari...function over form. Let's not forget a box is more space efficient than a sphere.

I do believe this is the 1st time I beat this horse! :P:deadhorse:

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Dude, how many times are we going to beat this horse? It's a minivan not a Ferrari...function over form. Let's not forget a box is more space efficient than a sphere.

Assuming you can actually use the corners in the box :P

Either way, it could look significantly better without losing any functionality. The cool features should save it, I think.

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It could be better, but thens o could have Ford's and GM's minivans...but they aren't. And let's not bring in the Lambdas or Flex because I'm trickily referring to minivans.

Edited by Dodgefan
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Dude, how many times are we going to beat this horse? It's a minivan not a Ferrari...function over form. Let's not forget a box is more space efficient than a sphere.

That picture actually looks quite good.

I know I said the same thing when i saw the first photos - back to square? Bad idea.

Honda and Toyota have a taken a very specific shape and simply refined it to provide steadily increasing marketshare.

Did Chrysler "taste-test" this new design language or was it just - hey let's do something different, this might work?

Here's hoping that's not the case.

And that the interiors, features, and gas mileage will all be class-leading.

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The minivan launch comes at a time of turmoil for Chrysler's marketing operations. Chrysler CEO Tom LaSorda and dealers have complained that the company's recent advertising often did not include enough product information. BBDO Detroit is the Chrysler group's longtime ad agency.

Look at

http://www.chrysler.com/

http://www.dodge.com/

http://www.jeep.com/

and you'll see it's impossible to find any decent information. Very few features are highlighted.

The charts are non-functional, organized by idiots. Features are missing, and located at unintuitive places of the web sites.

The specifications are nearly impossible to decipher, with specs and capabilities of different trims spread over pages with completely different formats.

Want to see towing? want to see mpg? Want to see engine info? Good luck.

Chrysler hides everything.

I would not even consider Chrysler because they hide information about their products, regardless of whether it's intentional, or just plain idiocy.

Even if it's unintentional idiocy, I would not trust my life to riding a vehicle engineered by people with such low intelligence.

Edited by JT64
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Most of the information is easy enough to find, however I no longer see the quick links to MyGig...also, what has long annoyed me about the Dodge site is that the top models /powertrains seem to be missing from things like vehicle comparisons and payload ratings. I can't check teh towing and payload capacity of a Nitro R/T for example, and when I go to compare trucks, I can't select the 5.7L Hemi.

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As far as Chrysler "walking a tightrope" with their brand positioning... this has been going on for decades. As far as I know, they straddled Buick and Cadillac even back in the 60's, 50's, 40's... Imperial was their "true" Cadillac competitor. So Chrysler needs to stop wringing their hands and be happy they're still here. Right now, except for the PT, I'd say they're right around Buick's level, with the upper trims of the 300 above the Lucerne (C, SRT-8, Heritage) and the lower trims at upper trim LaCrosse level (Limited, Touring), with the base 300 a tick below a base LaCrosse. The 300 range covers a wide swath, which is a good strategy (many different trim levels allows more people to own one). Sebring is where a Skylark should be, and PT is a leftover Plymouth.

The new minivans are handsome boxes, imo. First and second-gen minivans were strict boxes, and they sold well enough to save the company.

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Disagree about having so many low-scraping 300 trims. It weakens the luxury image of the brand and overpopulates the market with an identical car. It also makes it possible for someone to buy an off-lease Dollar 300 2.7l, throw on SRT wheels and badges and make people think he has the real deal. I've seen it. Its sad. And it wouldn't happen if Chrysler knew what they were doing.

Ocn is right about one thing - they're lucky to even be here.

I'll say it again, Chrysler Corporation hasn't had any business making cars since around 1968. Dodge is where the strength lies, except that Chrysler again muddles up the range. Why is the PT a Chrysler? Why does the base 300 exist? Why did they sell the goddamn Voyager for two years? The Aspen?? The design language isn't distinct enough either. If Chryslers are supposed to be upscale, why does the 300 have bulgy fender flares and muscular cues while the Charger doesn't? You end up with two large divisions fighting over the same slice of cake.

Look at the Lucerne and DTS, arguably the same car underneath, like the LXs. But they look completely different with bespoke interiors, unique styling, and completely different product positioning. They have different powertrain ranges and command vastly different prices. One could make a compelling argument for choosing the DTS over a Lucerne on more than one basis; the only differentiator between the 300 and Charger is "What styling do you like better?" There isn't even a price difference...and more insulting, the Charger can be had for less - yet better-equipped - than the bottom-rung 300!

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WOW a box on wheels, how original! I like the rounded look of their older models better than the square look they are using now! Ewwwww :P

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Yeah because a rounded look on a minivan is soooo original. They should have done that, it would have been ground breaking!!!

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Oh Chrysler, how wrong you are with that statement! I'm sure besides myself, there are plenty of people that know about your quality. :lol:

I know about their quality, it's exceptional. I have had three brand new Chrysler products and never had problems with any of them. I know several people who can make the same claim.

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Mr. Fly... you know Chrysler is not the only victim of this kind of customer-perpetrated deception. Jeez, how many GM cars have been "cloned" over the years. 6 cylinder Camaros with SS badges, base model Chevelles with SS hoods, etc. That kind of thing is going to go on anywhere.
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I know about their quality, it's exceptional. I have had three brand new Chrysler products and never had problems with any of them. I know several people who can make the same claim.

:wavey:

Out of a whole family owning many Chryslers, only one minivan needed a head gasket.....and that was under warranty. Other stuff was just minor. The only transmission problem was on my sister's Stealth.....which had 120K miles and was a Mitsubishi.

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Mr. Fly... you know Chrysler is not the only victim of this kind of customer-perpetrated deception. Jeez, how many GM cars have been "cloned" over the years. 6 cylinder Camaros with SS badges, base model Chevelles with SS hoods, etc. That kind of thing is going to go on anywhere.

I think the issue is more that the low end 300s should really be Plymouths instead.

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Mr. Fly... you know Chrysler is not the only victim of this kind of customer-perpetrated deception. Jeez, how many GM cars have been "cloned" over the years. 6 cylinder Camaros with SS badges, base model Chevelles with SS hoods, etc. That kind of thing is going to go on anywhere.

There has never been anything more egregious than this, which was truly the low point in badge engineering.

Plymouth Neon

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Dodge Neon

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Yes, Chrysler Neon

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No one has ever done anything that bad. No one.

As Drew said, the base 300 shouldn't be a Chrysler. It drags down the premium aspirations with its hood prop, four-speaker stereo, wheel covers, and anemic engine.

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There has never been anything more egregious than this, which was truly the low point in badge engineering.

Plymouth Neon

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Dodge Neon

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Yes, Chrysler Neon

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No one has ever done anything that bad. No one.

As Drew said, the base 300 shouldn't be a Chrysler. It drags down the premium aspirations with its hood prop, four-speaker stereo, wheel covers, and anemic engine.

Yup, the didn't even bother to change the name.

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No one has ever done anything that bad. No one.

Really?

Chevrolet Cavalier

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Pontiac J2000

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Oldsmobile Firenza

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Buick Skyhawk (I know, I know)

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Cadillac Cimarron (groan)

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Isuzu Aska (yes, seriously)

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Holden Camira (and I've got more)

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Opel Ascona (yup, even the Germans)

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Vauxhall Cavalier

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And to top all that off, Daewoo later made a revised version on the same basic platform...but that might be piling on. :P

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