Dodge Using Journey To Get Buyers Pacifica Could Not

This is the year of Dodge. That's what marketers at the company are hoping for. Dodge, a division of Chrysler LLC--best known for its Ram pickup--is launching several vehicles this year, including a new crossover, called Journey, which goes on sale this fall.

At a press event in New York Tuesday, Mike Accavitti, director of Dodge Brand and SRT Global Marketing, says Journey is an effort to win buyers where the larger Chrysler Pacifica--a much larger vehicle--could not.

"We had a product strategy meeting where we had a chart with PT Cruiser on one end and Pacifica on the other," he says. Journey is in the middle. "Pacifica was too big."

He says the target buyers for the new vehicle, which starts at $19,985, are couples in their 20s to 30s who aren't ready for a minivan and empty-nesters. "We think Journey will also get people into the Dodge brand. We think about 70% of buyers will be from domestic brands, but a good portion will come from imports," says Accavitti.

Mass-market TV ads for the new crossover with three rows of seats will not make an overt pitch to moms. He says ads won't cut into minivan territory with shots of little kids leaping in and out of the vehicle. Nor will TV ads focus solely on twenty-somethings using Journey as a cruise-mobile. He admits that the company is trying to figure out how to address both active-lifestyle consumers without kids and young couples with.

Accavitti says that however the vehicle is positioned, the ad message will be about the vehicle's flexibility. "The ads will focus on how Journey can enable you to enjoy much more of life--if you can dream it, you can do it. That's the message." The car has all-wheel drive optional, Chrysler's MyGig entertainment and navigation system. He says he expects about 80% of drivers to be women, as was the case with Pacifica.

Also on tap will be a national grassroots effort. "We want people to see the vehicle, so there will be a heavy ride-and-drive campaign around things like the PTA, Little League, soccer matches and the like," he says.

Accavitti says the campaign will be weighted toward Internet and print efforts, which allow Dodge to execute creative for each buyer group. "Print and Internet will allow us to tailor our ads to match the target," he says.

Dodge also unveiled its redesigned Ram pickup at the Detroit auto show last month, and its forthcoming Challenger coupe in Chicago. The Challenger goes on sale this spring. The company is also rolling out a hybrid version of its Durango SUV.

Tags: automotive
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