Dodge Launches Journey

The auto industry has long been a pioneer in sponsoring arts and entertainment. This spring, Chrysler’s new crossover vehicle, the Dodge Journey, will cross over into online in a big way for its launch. Mark Spencer, senior manager-communications for Dodge says he’ll spend 29% in interactive media, a figure that represents, “Dodge’s biggest digital outlay ever in terms of total dollars and percentage of the media buy,” according to Advertising Age. His online push involves portal home-page takeovers on AOL, Yahoo and MSN on April 8, 11 and 12, respectively; behavioral targeting on sites including HGTV.com and Univision.com; and buys on search engines.

Despite the gloomy clouds that hang over Detroit these days, as long as vehicles roll off the line and into show rooms, automakers will continue to advertise and sponsor events to get their vehicles considered by consumers.

Deborah Wahl Meyer, VP-CMO of Chrysler, believes this launch is critical for Dodge. And risky given the economic climate. The Journey will be launched under the very RenGen theme “If you can dream it, do it,” which appeals to the cultural consumer, who is more inner-driven and self expressive. Despite the RenGen spirit of the campaign, Dodge will spend its sponsorship marketing dollars over at the NHL and NBA, two very low performing properties in terms of ratings. No doubt this is a bow to the old school ways car dealers like to court and be courted.

Next week, I sit down with Judy George, President of Freidman Swift Associates, a market research firm that serves the automotive industry. Judy keeps the pulse of the auto-buying public and translates it for auto dealers. I will share her insights on where marketing spending is headed for automotive right here on the blog. Check back.