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On August 31st, I posted a blog entry here titled: "Ask Dr. Z"....


In that post, I was ruminating about Daimler Chrysler's latest marketing campaign, which utilizes Dr. Dieter Zetsche, its chairman as spokesman, and the pros and cons of such a strategy.
The TV and radio advertising spots coordinated with a web site askdrz.com, all designed to point out the many advantages of the merger between Daimler and Chrysler. That is -- better quality, improved handling, more fuel efficiency, etc, based on the collaboration of the best American and German engineers and designers in both divisions.
My questions were these: will this be a successful strategy? Will it lead to stronger sales? Will it burnish the image of the flagging Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep brands?
Some of you who responded to the post had strong opinions and interesting POVs about Daimler Chrysler's use of its chairman in its latest marketing campaign. Many bloggers out there are still convinced that Dr. Z is an actor!
After launching the campaign on July 1st and running it for two months, Chrysler has suddenly announced it will pull the TV and radio spots for the time being--or so the company says–in favor of advertising its "zero percent finance offer." This was reported in Automotive Digest on September 1st, as well as the Detroit News.
With business still down substantially on its former mainstay SUVs and trucks, and Chrysler's planned roll-out of ten new vehicles by year's end, the focus for the time being will apparently be on hard-sell tactics. However, the company has assured the press that Dr. Z will be returning in the future.
In the meantime, the Ask Dr. Z site will remain in place. Apparently, that site has fielded nearly 6 million questions to date. Chrysler also reports that Internet activity is up 15% on the company's Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep web sites. While that hasn't translated to lifting sagging sales yet, Daimler Chrysler spokesmen have expressed optimism since there is increased consumer interest in its products.
So for now, Auf wiedersehen, Dr. Z.
While Daimler Chrysler considers phase two of its Ask Dr. Z marketing campaign to be launched at some future, undisclosed date, some of us will miss him. Or maybe we'll miss the humor in the way he can "head" a soccer ball, his great mustache or the thick Teutonic accent. Then again, maybe some of us won't.
Question: if you were directing new marketing campaigns for Daimler Chrysler, what tack would you take? Would you be hard sell and push strong pricing and deals? Would you focus on the new 2007 models and more gas efficient vehicles? Or would you continue to have the chairman talk about the improved features and benefits of Chrysler vehicles?
I invite Daily Fix readers to weigh in.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ted Mininni is president of Design Force, Inc. (www.designforceinc.com), a leading brand-design consultancy to consumer product companies (phone: 856-810-2277). Ted is also a regular contributor to the MarketingProfs blog, the Daily Fix.