Chrysler is nearly two weeks into its bankruptcy, and the Auburn Hills, Michigan-based automaker is already getting an idea of just how engaged the Obama administration plans to be in the process. Chrysler planned to spend $134 million dollars on advertising during its supposed nine weeks of bankruptcy, but the Auto Task Force has reportedly cut the figure in half. Judge Arthur Gonzalez wasn't even sure 50% spending was necessary, saying "idle plants, why market?" But the Task Force apparently says it recognizes that marketing is necessary during the bankruptcy to prevent the further erosion of the already battered Chrysler brand image.

Chrysler Marketing and Sales Vice President Steven Landry defended the decision to spend on advertising during the bankruptcy saying that the move "gives us the opportunity to reinforce that it's business as usual and demonstrate a bright future ahead for Chrysler." One commenter on Advertising Age took "business as usual" as a bad thing, as that mentality lead to "cars no one wanted to buy, zero innovation, outdated labor practices and a lot of taxpayer money thrown in to keep a sinking ship from going under."

Auto research site Edmunds.com told AdAge that the campaign appeared to be working for the first five days, saying interest on its consumer auto search site jumped by 15%. Interest in Chrysler vehicles dropped back to pre-bankruptcy levels after that, though. One dealer told AdAge that the only added interest appears to be from would-be buyers trying to "low ball" to see if dealers will take next to nothing just to liquify assets.

Chrysler's ad campaign during Chapter 11 consists of two corporate branding spots that touts Chrysler's wares and explains the Fiat situation. The other three spots are product ads for the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Grand Caravan, and Chrysler Town & Country.

[Source: Advertising Age]