Dodge to Shift Ad Slogan

by : Lisa Ziegler



The Dodge brand under the Chrysler Group manufacturer of is planning to downsize its advertising slogan from "Grab Life by the Horns" to simply "Grab Life" in an effort to portray Chrysler's best-selling marquee as more than just a truck brand, according to a reliable source familiar with the plan.

For the past couple of months, Dodge has rolled out the Avenger midsize sedan, the Caliber hatchback, and the Nitro small SUV, for fear that its not gaining many sales because the brand is so associated with the trucks like the muscular Dodge Ram pickup.

A Chrysler official refused to give his views on the shift, by saying that it is not the policy of the company to discuss future marketing plans. But according to a person that is familiar with the plan has told The Detroit News that new slogan is to be revealed in a series of television ads scheduled to air in the coming weeks. Some dealers have also said that they were aware of the change but requested for their identity to be kept secret.

The new campaign is being developed by BBDO in Detroit. It is not yet sure whether the new marketing approach will attract new buyers but some experts say that it still depends on the execution of the said ad. According John Henke, a marketing professor at Oakland University who follows automotive advertising, "They need something with the same cachet. If they're going to make a change, it should be a bigger change that should be more apropos."

The change in slogan is being planned as Dodge car sales are growing with new model rollouts while its truck sales are declining amid volatile gasoline prices. While the Ram remains to be Chrysler's best-selling single model, it is also one of the oldest designs in the pickup segment. Some of its main rivals such as Ford F-150 and the Chevrolet Silverado have both been redesigned in recent years.

Last March, the Dodge brand sales decline by 4 percent with demand for trucks off by 6.6 percent whereas car sales increase by 3.4 percent. The biggest gains were recorded by the Caliber hatchback, which Dodge's smallest and most fuel-efficient model increasing by 32 percent while the Charger sedan was able to post a 40.8 percent increase. Ram sales decline by 1.1 percent.

Dodge is also seeking other markets such as women car buyers and younger car buyers. According to Auto Pacific, the marketing and product consulting firm that has offices in California and Southfield, 78 percent of Dodge buyers are men, compared to the industry-wide 65 percent. It was also found out that the median age of Dodge buyers is 53.

The shift in tagline and new ads also come against a backdrop of dealer dissatisfaction with recent Dodge brand commercials which they felt have completely failed to differentiate Dodge models from its other competitors especially when the commercial showed a vehicle flying into midair after getting a jump from a Dodge Nitro.

The President of Wilson Dodge in Flowood, Miss. Doug Wilson is not aware of the plans to change the slogan of the Dodge commercial however he said that if it is true then there's always some room for improvement in Dodge ads.

A non-executive Chairman of the consulting firm Courland Automotive Practice in Rochester, Vic Doolan said that if Dodge is determined in attracting buyers it has to change the perception of consumers of the brand. He also said that Chrysler needs to let consumers see beyond the manly faÃ?ade of Dodge and it will take more than just a shift of slogan. "It's not a marketing exercise," said Doolan, who headed BMW North America for nine years. "It's a complete brand exercise."

Doolan to illustrate his point said that Chrysler can learn from some auto brands like Saturn that have successfully shaped consumers' thinking and are now famous for their no-haggle dealership experience. Mazda is another brand from which Chrysler can learn a thing or two, Ford has advertise the brand emphasizing on its quality such as sporty and affordable.