Sunday, March 20, 2011

Can Chrysler pull off a Motown Miracle this year?

According to The Detroit News, Chryslers’ new strategy to convince American consumers that it is still viable and even worthwhile as an investment begins with a 70% increase in its advertising budget, to nearly $2.9 billion this year.

Still newly out of bankruptcy, this battered brand has a lot of image mending to do. Chrysler’s been all over the place. They had great mini vans, then everybody else made theirs more affordable. They had the Viper, then they didn’t. They launched some great cars, including the rebirth of their Dodge Charger and Challenger, then came out with some that just made you scratch your head.

So can Chrysler be competitive again after two years in exile?

To mastermind it all, Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne, who is also CEO of Fiat, asked Fiat marketing chief Olivier Francois to head Chrysler's marketing, as well.

One of Francois' first moves was to cancel longtime contracts with advertising agencies, including BBDO Detroit, replacing them with new players hired for specific tasks — such as national branding or multicultural ads — rather than the old way of aligning agencies with individual brands.

Another new Chrysler strategy is the return of Fiat to North America after 27 years, starting with the tiny Fiat 500. Yes, I did say FIAT, as in “Fix it again, Tony.”

This will be very interesting to watch, indeed. I hope Chrysler is banking on the fact that many of today’s car buyers are too young to remember how terrible the FIAT cars of the 70’s were. Based on my experience with Fiat and Alpha Romeo cars of that era, the most diplomatic term I can muster is “quirky.” How will the Fiat 500, or some re-badged Chrysler car based on its platform, compete against the likes of Honda, Toyota and Hyundai?

If they can pull this off, it’ll be nothing short of a Motown Miracle.

Finally, proof that Tuesday has no "feel."

A recent post by Paul Sutton on his blog, TheSocialWeb, brought to mind quite vividly a Seinfeld episode in which, during one of those classic exchanges of nothingness between Jerry and George, George pronounces emphatically that Tuesday is the one day of the week that has no "feel." Now along comes Sutton with actual proof, sort of, about Tuesdays.

He says we should avoid announcing anything significant on a social network on a Tuesday. Don't publish blog posts, don't launch anything on Facebook or upload a YouTube video. Just let Tuesday pass you by because of a basic lack of social network engagement.

Why? His theory on Tuesday basically “sucking” for social media is that Tuesday is the day when people get their heads down in the office. On a Monday we get into the office wanting to get back up to speed. We devour information in blog posts and tweets. Have we missed anything over the weekend? This is followed by Tuesday, the day that we get down to business.

My take on this is a bit different, and probably just as unscientific. I’ve spent many Mondays putting out fires, trying to get computers and printers to work, wading through worthless e-mails, and the list goes on and on. Monday is followed then by Tuesday, when if you’re lucky, half the time you will actually have a productive day. So are you more focused on productive activities on Tuesdays? Could this be why Tuesday “has no feel?”

If that’s the case, then give me more Tuesdays!