AdSpotting: Dodge Charger gets the "Never Neutral" treatment

2011 Dodge Charger Never Neutral ads – Click above to watch after the jump

Company: Chrysler

Brand: Dodge

Medium: TV Ad

Ad Agency: Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Oregon.

Product: 2011 Dodge Charger

Campaign: "Never Neutral"

What We Like: The re-do on the 2011 Dodge Charger turned a car that was one half of a two-suits-for-the-price-of-one deal into a slick, polished and nicely sprung sedan that now earns our respect. The "Never Neutral" marketing campaign debuted last week at the Chicago Auto Show and comes across in these ads as a decent tag-line for the Charger. We like the attitude that the Charger is a car for people who still enjoy real driving, don't moan about pumping their own gas and aren't necessarily swayed by the reputations of other brands that are now bigger than their current sheet-metal supports. In these two ads, Chrysler takes aim squarely at Google's self-driving car and Mitsubishi's online test drive "experience", (though picking on Mitsubishi at this point is like taunting Urkel), as well as referencing the Matrix movies, which never hurts.

What We Don't Like: Making a statement about the Dodge brand being for real drivers and sticking a thumb in the eye of a couple of competitors is all well and good, but could we get some edgier writing here? All they could come up with to ridicule Mitsubishi's online test-drive is, "That's absurd." As we used to say in the newspaper biz, "Get me rewrite!"

Strategy: Dodge is positioning itself as the brand of vehicles for those who appreciate that Detroit is still the capital of car-making in the U.S., and that driving a responsive automobile is a fine American value. We absolutely loved the ad from 2010 showing George Washington leading his troops into battle against the British redcoats in Dodge Challengers, and we like the similar attitude on display here. But this approach to selling Dodge's new image around Americana, American values and for people who relish having a real set of wheels is a bit of a high wire act dependent on the creative teams batting well above .500.

Grade: B-

What do you think? Watch the ads for yourself after the jump.

2011 Dodge Charger: "Slippery Slope"

2011 Dodge Charger: "Test Drive"

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