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Chrysler's Brand Message Faces Tough Challenge

October 11, 2011

Around our Scottsdale marketing offices, we often talk about the genius behind many advertising campaigns. And, as it often does here on the blog as well, Chrysler’s “Imported from Detroit” ad campaign becomes a topic of discussion. While we might not know everything there is to know about where cars are made, we do know advertising, and this campaign has done amazing things for Chrysler. Today I came across an article pointing out a very disturbing fact, and one that might have some serious consequences for Chrysler’s “Imported from Detroit” brand message; the Chrysler 300 is actually imported from Ontario and Mexico.

When Brands Are Not Authentic

When a brand message is not authentic, people will take notice, and the Made in the USA Foundation has definitely taken notice. They recently filed complaints with the Federal Trade Commission accusing the Chrysler Group of “misleading advertising.”

Chrysler has been successfully running their “Imported from Detroit” message since its launch during the 2011 Super Bowl. The advertisement with Eminem was so hugely successful, Chrysler has been communicating this brand message all year long, remaining committed to this inspiring story.

“In their eyes, the brand hasn't been this hot in years, thanks to clever marketing and a refreshed lineup, and they expect the summer to be strong -- especially with the redesigned Chrysler 300 starting to arrive in greater numbers and the Chrysler 200 convertible out just in time for warmer weather.” – The Detroit Free Press

The “Imported from Detroit” campaign did so well during the first quarter of this year that Chrysler posted a $116 million profit, whereas they lost $197 million during the first quarter of 2010. This campaign, while perhaps not entirely authentic, has created millions of brand advocates for Chrysler; advocates that believe they are driving an American built vehicle.

Of course, this campaign has had its critics, mainly those who remember the government bailout that Chrysler took. This complaint filed by the Made in the USA Foundation might not seem like much, but for a brand message that rests upon the idea of being Made in America, by Americans, it might be difficult to overcome.