Company: Chrysler

Brand: Ram

Medium: TV

Ad Agency: The Richards Group, Dallas

Product: Ram Pickup

Campaign: "Code of the West"

What We Like: There is a lot of rational left-brain advertising in the auto sector these days, especially in the pickup truck category. Take Ford, which has fast-talking, urbane actor/comedian Dennis Leary rattling off all kinds of numbers about fuel economy, towing capacity, etc. A new Ram ad campaign, launched a few months ago, goes the other way, continuing to use cowboy actor Sam Elliott whose leathery vocal chords seem to ooze images of toughness, heroism and even nostalgia for the kind of old-school work ethic that built the frontier. Indeed, this whole campaign seems to point one's thinking and emotions toward Gary Cooper's code of honor in the film classic "High Noon," and uses sets and locales that were actually used for the HBO series "Deadwood."

The two new ads in the campaign, carrying the tagline "Guts. Glory. Ram," and revolving around a theme of "Code of the West," actually takes the cowboy imagery Chrysler is establishing and dials in a bit of left brain info: the fact that Ram gets 20 mpg with its V8 Hemi, and another TV spot for the Power Wagon that shows the pickup rock crawling.

The best overall ad campaign for trucks we ever saw was Chevy's "Like A Rock." It combined a great music track with emotionally driven imagery that set the stage for any left-brain messaging GM wanted to convey. It was signature creative in its day. This Ram effort fills a void vacated by Chevy – asserting the truck and an advertising story line that makes you want to option up your next Ram for the saddle leather upholstery (if you can afford it), and get the "Big Horn" belt-buckle.

What We Don't Like: The Power Wagon TV spot shows off the truck's rock crawling capability, and asserts that Ram is the only truck "off the line" that can do that. But the truck is just climbing up a mound of rocks... to what end? How about making the point by showing a story of why the truck has to crawl those rocks?

There is a line in the campaign, though not in these two new ads, that proclaims: "There is No Middle Ground." Call us over-analytical, but while we know this is an ad about a truck and maintaining standards of excellence, the "No Middle Ground" as an idea is going to lose currency very quickly as the whole country comes to realize that out economic survival depends on political leaders finding just that – some middle ground. We'd hate to see a scene from the campaign used by far right wingers to make a point about something that has nothing to do with trucks.

And hey... how about some real music attached to this campaign.

Strategy: It's not Dodge Ram any more. The company, under the direction of Fiat, has separated Dodge cars and crossovers from the truck business. So, it's just Ram now. Company executives point to a 26% increase in business this year as evidence that the strategy and campaign are working to drive traffic. Some future Ram products are going to be adapted from Fiat commercial vehicles, we think. It will be interesting to see how the company morphs this very compelling creative to support those vehicles, unless Sam Elliott remains Ram pickup exclusive. Then again, wouldn't it be cool to see spagetti western style ads? Paging Clint Eastwood.

Grade: B+






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  • 42 Comments
      Justin
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'll take 2 powerwagons please.
      threefortyduster
      • 3 Years Ago
      I don't see how you didn't catch Ram telling you how the Power Wagon can do what they said it can. It came right on the screen, electronic disconnecting sway bars, bilstein off road shocks, and a Warn winch standard. The ads are good, the tagline is simple and easy to remember. 3 Words. Guts. Glory. Ram. I may be biased (just bought a 2011 Ram Outdoorsman 2 weeks ago), but I think the ads will help keep the momentum Chrysler has going. Now I just want to see some ads really showcasing the Laramie Longhorn, even though you have to sit in one to truly understand how far ahead of the game those trucks are as far as interior luxury.
      mike999
      • 3 Years Ago
      Leave the political analysis out.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      Lance
      • 3 Years Ago
      How about the Ferd Fteenthousand? Probably the best Ford parody http://www.collegehumor.com/video/6383413/awesome-truck-commercial
      Hazdaz
      • 3 Years Ago
      Oh look, more imagery of mountains and the Wild West to get suburbanite cowboys to lust after a vehicle so they can drive it down to their local Home Depot and buy a bag of mulch.
        LUSTSTANG S-197
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Hazdaz
        What kind of car do you drive? Is it that silver Subaru WRX you used to have as your avatar? Well, if it is, I am willing to bet it makes far more trips to the store, mall, or your place of work/school than it does to any track. I am not a big fan of big trucks and SUVs myself, but some people like them the way you like sport compacts. Others, to varying degrees need them, but can't afford to have a vehicle for every type of driving scenario they are faced with.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      tnsubie
      • 3 Years Ago
      So Chrysler's ad agency hasn't left the 80's? Can anyone say, "Tired, Old..."
      AMG THIS
      • 3 Years Ago
      Ram sales are already on the upswing, these commercials are only going to help. In the other corner you have Ford with the "eco" boost TT V6 that gets worse fuel economy than a V8. Yawn. I see Marchionne Motors quickly getting to the level Chrysler was at pre-Dumbler era and then surpassing it to a level never seen before. GO MOPAR!
        Frank
        • 3 Years Ago
        @AMG THIS
        The Eco-Bosst gets better MPG towing, and WAY better MPG not towing. The whole point of having EB motors is to save fuel unloaded as opposed to being loaded. I think you need to look more into, btw, I don't you tow!
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        LUSTSTANG S-197
        • 3 Years Ago
        You're a funny guy. Have you seen their exciting lineup of late? You described Toyota, and to some extent, Honda in your post. Of all the car companies, excluding exotics and premium luxury makes, Chrysler is doing the best job putting some passion into their lineup. Now, that doesn't always equate to sales, but it does generate attention, which is something a company like Chrysler needs right now. They don't have the luxury to be complacent and only care about selling appliances like Honda and Toyota do.
        kylen20
        • 3 Years Ago
        Ok, its one thing to say that the Tundra is a better truck, they are priced nearly the same, Ram has a tad more HP ect ect however the Ridgeline.... you dident mean that did you? that part was a joke right.... its a V6 minivan based crossover truck thing not even NEARLY comparable with dismal sales. And if you want to talk about pursueing mediocrity in recent years that is nearly the definition of toyota and honda. If you ask me Chrysler is one of the more exciting automakers out there right now behing maybe only Ford.
          kingrat001
          • 3 Years Ago
          @kylen20
          A friend of mine would gladly trade his 2010 Tundra for a Chevy/GMC, Ford or Dodge. It's been a horrible truck in so many ways. But it does run great....when it runs. 85% of the time, it does. Fuuny how his older Ram still runs all the time.
        billfrombuckhead
        • 3 Years Ago
        US News did a compilation of all the surveys and ratings of full size trucks, RAM was first and TuRDra was fifth and the Ridgewhine isn't even a truck but a minivan with a little bed in the back for people with identity issues. Edmunds customer of actual owners survey also rates RAM first.
        kingrat001
        • 3 Years Ago
        Ridgeline? Better choice for what?
      Fat Stig
      • 3 Years Ago
      These are better than the Durango commercial, I laughed when I first saw that. They were showing a race track and talking about how american high performance is dead, and then they showed a freakin Durango. That was a shining example of american car companies "not getting it"
      RomelS
      • 3 Years Ago
      i loooooovvveeeee alll of Ram's commercials!!!!!
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