Amidst all the hype about the ads during the Super Bowl (which seem to be getting less spectacular every year), Chrysler has done a quiet marketing relaunch that is worthy of attention. No longer a member of the Big 3, as their overall share and impact diminishes, it is interesting to watch how the company intends to reinvent itself up against the massive Toyota, General Motors, and other competitors.
While Chrysler didn't buy the big ticket Super Bowl spots, they instead cherry-picked 55 key markets for their campaign. While Doritos may get all the attention for their consumer-generated ads, Chrylser appears to be using customers (or at least actors playing customers) to suggest that they're listening to real people, which is helping them improve their cars and feature packages.
Declaring "It's A New Day," a spot shows an animated little boy who designs the perfect car company. In others, actors "suggest" improvements, followed-up by Chrylser reinforcing they've listened to consumers, and are now offering new features at regular prices (bigger engines, free GPS, etc.).
A good idea, perhaps, especially up against all their competition, but where's the authenticity? Where are the real consumers? While they've created a website - www.chryslerlistens.com - there's no identified place for people to write comments and suggestions. And while there's a blog of sorts, it tends to be self-serving messages from Chrysler execs. A few comments are coming in - and they're not all complimentary - but if Chrysler is truly serious about integrating consumer ideas into their product and marketing strategies, they'll need to be more genuine in their efforts.
We've seen radio go through some of these motions, too, over the years. It's one thing to open up the PD Line, and take suggestions for improvements for a couple of weeks. It's entirely another to air some complaints, listen to listeners, and make bona fide changes for the better. The stations that have been truly committed to these initiatives tend to see returns, in terms of listener loyalty and long-term ratings growth and stability. But this is another case where "walking the walk" is critical in making "We listen to you" campaigns successful, rather than be the source of consumer derision and skepticism. If Chrysler is truly serious about reinventing itself, truly listening to consumers can be both scary and rewarding.