Detroit Lion Ndamukong Suh stars in a recent Chrysler 3... Detroit Lion Ndamukong Suh stars in a recent Chrysler 300 ad (Chrysler).
Three months ago, Chrysler took the highly unusual step of advertising its Detroit roots during the Super Bowl. The campaign has drawn a lot of attention, as well as mixed reviews for its effectiveness. As the spring car selling season gets into full-swing, though, the automaker is doubling down on its "Imported From Detroit" ad strategy in hopes that car buyers on the coasts care about what comes from The Motor City.

The Super Bowl ad featured rap legend Eminem, as well his song, "Lose Yourself." The ad also starred the city of Detroit in video postcards -- gritty neighborhood scenes as well as athletes, working people and a gospel choir. The idea advanced in the ad is that Detroit, despite a steady diet of bad headlines and disrespect, is where the best designed and performing vehicles come from.

A new batch of three ads feature celebrities with ties to the Motor City -- rap artist and entrepreneur Dr. Dre, New York fashion designer John Varvatos and Detroit Lion second-year standout Ndamukong Suh -- each driving a new Chrysler 300 sedan.

But rather than selling Detroit, the new ads are set in New York City (Brooklyn), Los Angeles and Portland, Ore., where each of the celebrities have connections. Each one is the star of their own story depicted in the ad, and is seen driving the new 300 sedan. The message: The Chrysler 300, "Imported from Detroit," belongs anywhere in the U.S., even in import brand-heavy Los Angeles and New York.



"The individuals in these commercials represent more than success stories," said Olivier Francois, President and CEO of the Chrysler Brand and head of marketing for Chrysler. "They represent a brand of determination that Detroit has come to stand for. These are true stories of people who worked hard and are now able to enjoy the luxury they deserve; and luxury feels better earned. These three individuals define the target customer for the all-new 2011 Chrysler 300."

In past, U.S. automakers were sheepish about stating their connections to the city of Detroit because the city has had such a bad name -- high crime, high unemployment, terrible school system, corrupt local government officials and, in 2009, two bankrupt automakers in Chrysler and General Motors.



Francois, French-born and running marketing for both Chrysler and Italian automaker Fiat, which has a controlling stake in the Michigan automaker, says he sees the city, and metropolitan Detroit, through the eyes of an outsider.

"I have seen that this is a real city with great talent, hard working people making great product, with a tremendous work ethic and values that I think will be embraced by people all over the country of we can tell the story right," he said.

In the ad starring football star Suh, the young defensive lineman is driving his 300 through the streets of Portland where he grew up. In the ad starring Detroit-born Varvatos, the designer is seen rummaging through a record store in Brooklyn perusing MoTown music legends, and then driving through a neighborhood in his 300 sedan, passing by clubs and people before arriving at his studio and working into the night to the sounds of Detroit music artists.

Dr. Dre's Chrysler ad, which won't be released until June, is specifically meant to push the Beats by Dr. Dre sound system featured in the 2012 300S. The hip-hop impresario is seen driving through the streets of LA, eventually arriving at a music club. In an homage to the Super Bowl ad in which Eminem said, "This is The Motor City. This is what we do," Dre says, "This is LA, and this is what we do."



The idea of taking the ad out of Detroit and into other parts of the country is a must if Chrysler wants this campaign to resonate outside of the Midwest, which is already Detroit's strongest selling markets. Disrespect for U.S. car brands in California, New York, Washington D.C., Boston, Miami is well documented with tiny market shares for Chrysler, Chevrolet and Ford passenger cars. Dodge (a Chrysler brand) pickup trucks, along with Chevy and Ford trucks, sell well because Detroit dominates the pickup truck market. But cars are a different story.

"Detroit is a tough sell out here, no question about it," says Los Angeles-based marketing consultant Dennis Keene. "I would say that some of what Chrysler has done the last few months is starting to generate a bit of curiosity, but only about the 300 sedan, and it is going to have to stay committed and spend a lot of money out here for it to stick and take hold."



Overall Chrysler brand car sales were up 41% in April versus a year ago, well ahead of the industry as a whole. But it's the earliest of days after the launch of the 200 sedan in just the last few months. The real test of whether "Imported from Detroit" is making people curious enough about Chrysler's story to plunk down actual greenbacks will be in early 2012, with a whole year of pitching the pro-MoTown message behind the automaker.

By that time, it is expected to be gearing up for an initial public offering of stock in a company that, by spring 2012, should be more than 50% owned by Fiat and U.S. government ownership a thing of the past.

Chrysler, like GM, was bailed out with taxpayer funds in 2009. The company was owned by private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, which hit a financial wall with Chrysler when industry sales plummeted in the wake of the meltdown of the financial markets. The government stepped in to help finance the takeover of Chrysler by Fiat rather than let the company fall into receivership, worsening the economic picture and jobless picture of Southeast Michigan.

Through April, Chrysler's market share stood at 9.2% of the U.S. auto market, up from 9.1% a year earlier. That includes its Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep brands.

Bottom Line: Chrysler is taking a big chance with its "Imported From Detroit" ad campaign. The new 300 and Town & Country minivan have been done extremely well. The 200 sedan, upgraded from the Sebring, is a much better piece of work than it was, but still lagging cars like Ford Fusion and Honda Accord by light years. If the campaign is to work in garnering curiosity about Chrysler vehicles, the company is going to have to keep up a steady diet of clever events and ads, not just run this campaign for a few months and abandon it because it didn't click right away.


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  • 490 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      no
      darlena1977
      • 4 Years Ago
      When America starts building a better vehicle I will purchase one. Grew up in Michigan; and unfortunately the Japanese cars hold up better. I had a 96 accord that was totaled at 243,000 miles and I drove it away. The Ford focus that hit me and sustained less visible damage had to be towed from the scene. I do however like the Corvette, but I will stick with Honda and Acura.
        Stabe
        • 4 Years Ago
        @darlena1977
        Not a really valid comparison. Heck, I could boast of my old Pontiac hitting a Honda Accord. I then drove my car off to work and fixed the damage with polishing compound. The Accord? Towed away on a dolly. Damage to my car? Nil. Damage to the Accord? $1750. Now, did I give you any particulars? No I did not. It is a meaningless comparison since you know nothing of the actual accident.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @darlena1977
        96 Accord with 243,000 not bad......My 2003 Dodge 3500 has 873,541 and pulls 15,000 pounds every day, can your accord even pull a mower??? LOL
      javaman16d
      • 4 Years Ago
      I have been a Plymouth/Chrysler fan since I could drive. Throw in a couple od Dodges as well. It is good to see an old friend doing better. If you are on the fence over which car to buy; go to a Chrysler dealer, stand next to a 200, or 300, and you will buy one. And yes: there is room enough for a football player.
      Barancy Peloma
      • 4 Years Ago
      no amount of ads directed to 'connect with the customer' will work until Chrysler makes a commitment to building cars that can compete with what companies like Honda, Toyota and Ford are building. i still see accords and camrys that were built in the 80's driving around. they most likely have 250'000 or more miles on them. how many Chryslers from the same era are still out there? you never see them because they have all fallen apart long ago. here is an example of why Chrysler builds garbage on wheels (until they fall off) http://jalopnik.com/5645880/auto-workers-drinking-getting-high-during-lunch
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Barancy Peloma
        The first Chrysler 300s were sanctioned and built by Mercedes. When Chrysler started performing poorly, not up to Mercedes standards, Mercedes pulled up. The 2004 and 2005 chrysler 300 will probably hold up to 150,000 to 200,000 plus miles. Infact, our Chrysler 300C is coming up on 150,000 and still running strong. But, yes, you are right the cars from 2006 to present will not be around for 100,000 miles much elss 250,000
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Barancy Peloma
        My 2003 Chrysler still looks like new & runs like new. No problems! I seem to remember Toyotas running away with a stuck accelerator with the poor people behind the wheel screaming! How many died from that quality problem that Toyota is trying to rewrite as if it never happened???!!!!! I WOULD ABSOLUTELY NEVER BUY A TOYOTA! NEVER! Especially with their commercials bragging up how much Americans love their quality - BS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      janka51
      • 4 Years Ago
      after seeing those commercials i will stick with ford and chevy.
        harleydavid105
        • 4 Years Ago
        @janka51
        That's OK. They are great American manufacturers. In business in the USA for over 100 years. BUILD AMERICAN BUY AMERICAN.
        ajschrod
        • 4 Years Ago
        @janka51
        Why---what offended you about the commercial? I thought it was well-done and VERY novel!
      Shirley Hamelman
      • 4 Years Ago
      Good Job Chrysler, you captured it with these ads. I am a Chrysler fan. I am so glad to see the Company emerging upward & stronger than ever. Chrysler makes a good product. The 300 series came out as a fire runner with it's strong, handsome design, and now the 200 comes forth with it's fresh new look and clean lines. Again, Good Job !
      didismit
      • 4 Years Ago
      I LOVE the "Imported from Detroit" campaign. Loved my 300 M. Buy American !!!
      • 4 Years Ago
      people need to realize you are buying the car not the add... they if any company are smarter business people because they are reaching out to become more open minded and diverse... I live in Camden, NJ and i see alot of people driving new Chryslers so why not reach outside the box to attract a more diverse group of buyers... People need to stop being so close minded... Like i said your buying the car not the add....
      Crisisguy
      • 4 Years Ago
      Detroit is dead. Long live Detroit. gcm Detroit
      Aileen
      • 4 Years Ago
      I was raised in America and have always bought American. My father retired from Chrysler in the motor city. My current auto is a Jeep that I have had for 12 years this coming July and it has over 215,000 miles on it. I have had no huge repairs just normal maintance. I am in the market to buy a new car but wouldn't give up my Jeep Wrangler to save my life. Prior to this car I had a Dodge Stealth that I loved. I owned it for 9 years.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Aileen
        Aileen, I too drive a Jeep (Grand Cherokee) that is 12 years old and would not give it up willingly either. It has 150,000 miles on it and it's still going strong. It's never cost much to keep up. I would love to be able to buy another but only if it were made on AMERICAN soil.
          ANDYUPER
          • 4 Years Ago
          Hi Lois, I live in St Clair Shores, MI. about 10 miles from the Jeep Grand Cherokee assembly. I have a new Overland and it was built there by Uaw workers. Please go buy one, you'll love it and feel good about buying American.
      diamond
      • 4 Years Ago
      "Imported from Detroit!" No wonder the kids are so stupid. Importation is an action involving international boundaries! I guess Detroit is now a country. A better caption would be: "we rival the imports" or "the imports have nothing on us". Do I need a passport to go to Detroit now? lol
        • 4 Years Ago
        @diamond
        no just a gun
        harleydavid105
        • 4 Years Ago
        @diamond
        It's a clever advertisement to fool the traitors who buy supposedly superior imports into giving Chrysler a chance at their business.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I want an "Imported from Detroit" bumper sticker. as well as an "Imported from California, Alaska, Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana, etc.... start the trend NOW.
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