NEW YORK - The Chrysler group of DaimlerChrysler is expanding its marketing reach with a new global-oriented marketing structure and a broader advertising strategy.
In early January, the group merged international and domestic sales and marketing operations into a single global sales and marketing unit.
Then it pledged to increase overseas car sales, now about 250,000 units annually, by 15-20 percent within five years, led by Asian and Latin American growth. It also wants to boost the percentage of sales outside the USA beyond the current 20 percent.
As part of the global initiative, Chrysler is launching its first truly global marketing campaign for a new car, the PT Cruiser.
Global like Mercedes
In a related move, the Chrysler group a year ago consolidated its global media buying with Mercedes-Benz, although the two brands continue to work with separate advertising agencies for creative work.
'We want the Chrysler side of the business to become a truly global player, as is the Mercedes side of the company,' said Ken Laurence, director of global media for DaimlerChrysler. 'We are now focusing ourselves as a global player, developing products, strategies and creative (materials) to suit a global customer, and no longer have just a domestic focus.'
Before the reorganization, the Chrysler group had separate domestic sales and marketing organizations for the USA, Canada and Mexico, plus an international sales and marketing organization for other markets.
'We used to have an advertising manager for all our Chrysler brands domestically and one for the Chrysler brands internationally,' Laurence said. 'Now we have one communications manager for each brand globally. Therefore we can strengthen the brand with a consistent message everywhere in the world.'
That's the idea behind the upcoming global campaign for the PT Cruiser. A print and television campaign for the vehicle began in the USA in April and debuts in Europe during June and July. After that it will spread to the rest of the world, Laurence said.
The focal point for this campaign is Auburn Hills, Michigan, USA, where the Chrysler group develops its global marketing strategies, brand direction and creative work, relying heavily on input from country and regional offices.
To create the campaign, Chrysler worked with FCB Worldwide of Southfield, Michigan, a former office of Bozell Worldwide, which merged with FCB about two years ago and handled Chrysler. FCB handles television and print creative work for both the Chrysler and Jeep brands, while BBDO Worldwide of Southfield, Michigan, does creative work for Dodge.
'The (PT Cruiser) campaign was created and produced as an international campaign, with input from all parts of the world,' Laurence said. 'We had several meetings where we brought in representatives from the agency and from offices in the different countries and regions.'
The face-to-face meetings were supplemented with video conferencing and e-mail.
The print advertisements and commercials for the PT Cruiser will be the same domestically and internationally, with two exceptions: steering wheels and translation of voiceovers into local languages.
'For legal requirements, we use a right-hand-drive vehicle in markets such as the UK, Australia and Japan,' Laurence said.
Despite the ambitious overseas sales goals, Chrysler's advertising budget for 2000 will be the same as it was in 1999, Laurence said, but with a shift of advertising dollars to Asia and Latin America as these markets rebound from slowed economies.
Separately, Mercedes works with creative agencies in each country, numbering about 100 and including Omnicom Group's Merkley Newman Harty in the USA and Omnicom's Clemenger/BBDO in Melbourne, for Australia. Unlike the creative work, however, media buying for Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz brands has been consolidated.
'We buy jointly with our Mercedes counterparts now, but we still keep the brands separate,' said Laurence. 'By doing the planning and media buying jointly with Mercedes, we are gaining greater efficiencies and synergies from all of the worldwide media owners,' he added.
DaimlerChrysler uses three agencies for media buying. BBDO Worldwide's PentaCom in Detroit handles the company's media buying for North America.
BBDO's GFMO does planning and media buying for Germany. For the rest of the world, Chrysler uses London-based DCMA.