Chrysler Turns To Nickelodeon To Plug Backseat TV, Swivel Seats

Chrysler Group's eponymous division has signed a first-time multimillion-dollar promotional deal with Nickelodeon as part of Chrysler's push for the 2008 Town & Country minivan.

The program centers on Nick's Jimmy Neutron boy genius character, who will appear in Chrysler TV and Web ads to tout the vehicle's innovations, such as Sirius Backseat TV, MyGig entertainment system, and Swivel 'n Go seating configuration.

Nickelodeon will also be one of three channels--in addition to Disney and the Cartoon Network--that Sirius will offer onboard via Backseat TV, a technological advance that enables people in moving vehicles to watch television, a feat that had until now been impossible without special roof gear.

Chrysler's ad push for the minivan--via BBDO, Troy, Michigan--launches in October on Nickelodeon and Nick at Nite, and national network TV, as well as on digital sites Nick-owned,,, and magazine ads in Nickelodeon consumer publications.



Ads will star Jimmy Neutron, who will explore the vehicle to spotlight features like Swivel-N-Go seating, the latest innovation from the company.

The company says he will also appear in online ads on Costumed Jimmy Neutron characters will grace Chrysler's booth this year and next at auto shows, mobile tours, and in-theater ads where Chrysler products are featured.

The deal also includes a grassroots effort.

Chrysler will be exclusive automotive sponsor of Nickelodeon's nationwide 20-city road show called "Slime Across America," launching next month.

Chrysler will have a Town & Country display showcasing the SIRIUS Backseat TV and on-site photo opportunities with a Jimmy Neutron costumed character, among other things.

Chrysler will also be featured in billboards on any of Nickelodeon's local cable affiliate spots geared around the tour.

Chrysler will also have a Town & Country and Chrysler product specialist on site at Nickelodeon Family Suites by Holiday Inn in Orlando, Fla., from November through January 2008, where Chrysler's custom spots will air on the hotel's in-house TV network. Nick Hotel branding will be featured on during the promotional window.

Susan Thompson, senior manager, Chrysler global brand communications, said Jimmy Neutron was the right approach because he appeals both to kids and parents.

"He's a boy genius/inventor with an IQ of 300 who invents things to make life easier. And it's the product features that make life easier," she says.

Chrysler will create a total of four new spots for TV, two of them for Chrysler's national media rotation, one showing Jimmy Neutron having fun with the minivan, intended to appeal to children and parents. The fourth spot is retail-focused and won't run until after the first of next year, she says. All four will carry the "Engineered Beautifully" tagline.

In the ads, Jimmy Neutron will interact with the Town & Country's Swivel 'n Go seating, in which the second row seats can rotate 180 degrees to face third-row seats around a removable table.

"Safety in this segment is expected, so it's always there for us, but minivans are also about the 'wow' feature," she says, adding that Backseat TV is to be thought of as an addition to a suite of entertainment options in the vehicle, including DVD, Sirius radio, sound systems, and the MyGig system which integrates digital music, games, navigation, photo display and other features. She said that while she sees Swivel 'n Go as a conquest feature, Stow 'n Go will constitute the majority of sales.

Jim Sanfilippo--former industry analyst with AMCI, now a strategist at Team Detroit, WPP's agency group for Ford--said the company won't get the same traction with Backseat TV that it got with Stow 'n Go, a minivan innovation introduced mid-cycle in 2004, that allows both the second and third row seats to disappear into the floor.

"That was just brilliant. Nobody has equaled it. But I think that, while there's a case for television, it won't have the same impact," he says. "If I'm in the market for a minivan, Stow 'n Go stands out and makes it a leader in segment, and it's something I can't get anywhere else. TV actually is an addition to something already available called a DVD player."

Thompson says Chrysler's deal with Nickelodeon, part of Chrysler's up-front buy, is initially for two years and will probably be extended after that.

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