Dodge had an attitude problem for years -- but not the right kind. Then it got rid of Caravan minivan, and the Ram truck, which became its own brand. For a while, it lost the performance sub brand SRT, but now SRT is back as a Dodge nameplate. Which is good, because the big picture is to make Dodge the Fiat Chrysler Automobile (FCA) U.S. performance brand.
The easiest and fastest way for a brand like Dodge to accomplish that is to spotlight its most unbridled muscle vehicles -- those with a dial that goes all the way up to 11. For Dodge, that would be the SRT sub-branded Charger Hellcat, and Challenger Hellcat, and the Dodge Viper GTS, which the automaker brought back to life last year after a long dormancy period.
The company, positing the three as wild animals -- predators actually -- has debuted a 90-second spot to be run in movie theaters nationwide and shorter cuts for entertainment and sports cable. In the ads, the cars -- all in Dodge red -- cruise alone through an urban world of streets, parking garages, overpasses, ramps (presumably because lesser cars have fled in terror). The Charger and Challenger Hellcats roll together down roads like a pair of hunting animals. The only super is to tout the cars’ 700 hp engines and top speed of 206 mph. They are running in rotation on A&E, Bravo, Discovery, Velocity, TBS, TNT and National Geographic, per the company. The automaker is also running the spot on a giant screen at Times Square on July 6, and during the MLB All-Star Game broadcast on Fox on July 14.
Randy Ortiz, head of Dodge and SRT brand advertising, tells Marketing Daily that the ads are intended to make a statement about the entire Dodge brand. “While some advertising focuses on a call to action, this campaign is about brand positioning. It speaks about the attitude and personality of the Dodge brand, using our halo cars to say what the brand is … America’s performance brand. Performance is an attitude and all Dodge vehicles have the same attitude and personality as the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, Charger SRT Hellcat and Viper GTS.”
He points out that neither the vehicle nor Dodge name is ever mentioned in the ads. “All they do is show the vehicles and their logos at the end. It is the perfect ad for those who already know what the Hellcats and Vipers are -- and interesting enough, that those that don’t know will go out and find out more.” He says the video assets are extended into digital and social channels, and that otherwise there is no online advertising with the campaign.
FCA says the ads, via Portland, Ore.-based Wieden+Kennedy, were shot in Miami over three nights. One image is of a cigarette boat cruising along Biscayne Bay next to the cars, which are on a causeway. The boat is visible mostly because its engine and console are illuminated with an eerie blue-green light.