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 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
      Susan
      • 3 Years Ago
      Thank God for Obama who saved America's remaining auto industry - even though every single republican tried to stop him from doing so!!
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Susan
        Susan. I respect your admiration for Obama and your right to vote for him. However, if you are a liberal, then be a true one and tolerate others opinions without slandering "right wing" people because their views differ from yours. Why do I say this? Because you must have forgotten that Ronald reagn, one of those "right wingers" you seem to hate so much, bailed out Chrysler once before in the 1980's.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Susan
        Susan you're delusional.
          dx75
          • 3 Years Ago
          She's reading the little red book which says that a FIAT (which owns Chrysler) is an American car. Dream on Obamadroid. When Fiat builds a Dodge Challenger engine in MEXICO, and assembles the rest of the car in Canada, is THAT an "American" car? Where do the profits go? Why did they have to STOP a Ford pickup production line reently because the JAPANESE parts were held up by the earthquake. As I said, dream on Obamadroid.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Susan
        wonder where he got the money to do it...
      • 3 Years Ago
      chrysler need help with resale value, its terrible like it has always been. the nitro is a joke and junk
      • 3 Years Ago
      I applaud Chrysler for creating advertising their Detroit roots. It's nothing to be ashamed of and something to be very proud of, so I don't see where the controversy is coming from. Detroit automakers EMPLOY people and that is certainly what this country needs. I don't see this as a genius move, it's a perfectly logical one. For some inexplicable reason other car makers have decided to go other routes, and I do wish them luck, but to say or believe there is something about Detroit being your home base is stupidity in the extreme.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Nice Whip.
      javaman16d
      • 3 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.
      • 3 Years Ago
      its obvious theyre marketing towards blacks who think this pos chrisler product will get them hoes cuz dre made a beat for its commercial. this thing is downright ugly on the street. just like the boof getting out of it and into handcuffs on the interstate.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Chrysler is going for Obamas crowd. The brotha hood and ghetto welfare cases.
      langin1
      • 3 Years Ago
      Never owned a Chrysler nor ever will.
      nrwlbt
      • 3 Years Ago
      CHRYSLER AND THIER INNOVATIONS=GARBAGE! MY FORD F150 WITH 168,000 MILES IS THE BEST TRUCK IVE EVER OWNED.
      Shirley Hamelman
      • 3 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
      • 3 Years Ago
      I LOVE the "Imported from Detroit" campaign. Loved my 300 M. Buy American !!!
      janka51
      • 3 Years Ago
      after seeing those commercials i will stick with ford and chevy.
        harleydavid105
        • 3 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
        • 3 Years Ago
        @janka51
        Why---what offended you about the commercial? I thought it was well-done and VERY novel!
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