That living-room aesthetic--via something called "Swivel 'n' Go" seating, which lets the second row seats spin to face the third row around a coffee-table-like addition--is one of a raft of new passenger-centered features in the minivan that is highlighted in the campaign. The others are an industry-first, in-vehicle television service provided via a deal with Sirius and Nickelodeon.
The campaign will, in fact, feature Nick's Jimmy Neutron character at events like the Nickelodeon Slime Across America tour that has been in progress since summer and in print ads. There's also a contest in which consumers can upload family photos to a Town & Country Web site for prizes like an all-expenses-paid family trip to the Nickelodeon Family Suites by Holiday Inn in Orlando, Fla., a new kid-friendly hotel and resort. A cross-media ad buy on Nickelodeon properties launches in October.
The TV leg of the campaign starting today comprises five 30-second spots on appointment-viewing shows like "Grey's Anatomy," "Men in Trees," "Desperate Housewives," "Ugly Betty" and "60 Minutes." Ads emphasize ergonomic engineering and the strategic focus on the passenger space as a home away from home. Two ads show the minivan being built around a family. In one spot, the Town & Country is built around a family that ends up playing a game on the table as the vehicle is being driven. Another spot shows Jimmy Neutron, a boy genius, dazzled by the vehicle.
The campaign also includes two 30-second spots for African-American and Hispanic markets.
In addition, print advertising--which focuses on Town & Country's innovation, technology and luxury features--begins appearing in October magazines and includes three two-page spreads and single-page ads. Print ads will appear in Parents, Ladies Home Journal, Vanity Fair, Traveler, Real Simple, In Style, People, Money and Cooking Light. The November issue of Automobile Magazine will feature a Great Vacation Guide custom insert written from the road. There will also be expanded online content featuring a Town & Country walk-around by Jean Jennings, president and editor in chief of the magazine.
Interactive media elements for the all-new Chrysler Town & Country include home page takeovers on Yahoo, MSN and AOL, as well as exclusive path and banner ads on AOL, KBB, vehix.com, MSN and Vibrant Media. Other interactive elements include ABC.com featuring four exclusive Town & Country ads during commercial breaks in each of its one-hour programs. Chrysler will also give the Town & Country to influential and active parents for an extended test drive, with the opportunity for them to provide feedback about their real-life experiences with the minivan.
Additional online activities include game sponsorships at Pogo.com, as well as custom games--Road Sign Rally and Arcade Journey--that can be found at Chrysler.com/games. Chrysler will also continue its podcast series with hit music and in-depth interviews from top artists at Chrysler.com.
The Chrysler brand also created a special edition Monopoly board game featuring Chrysler dealerships and headquarters, as well as fun family travel destinations across the United States. It is designed to fit on the exclusive table between the second and third rows, and is available for purchase at Chrysler.com.
David Rooney, director of the Chrysler brand, says the company has to highlight some 35 new features in the campaign, and the focus tends to be on Swivel 'n' Go--at least from an advertising standpoint because it's the most striking, visually. "It's the one most people react to instantly."
He says other call-outs are the MyGig Entertainment System, back-up cameras, power third-row seating, and window shades. "The focus is on the inside of the vehicle," he says. "Most vehicles are focused on the driver, but [a minivan] is not built around the driver. It's built around every passenger--and I think that's where you start, and you add features that you might not be able to package with a typical crossover."
The minivan market has been at about 1.1 million units per year, and, according to J.D. Power & Associates, has declined slightly due to pressure from the booming crossover market.
Rooney says, however, that the minivan market will stay strong. "The number of families with two-plus children that make over $50,000 per year is growing three times faster than the general population," he says. "We're optimistic about the segment; we have run around 35% of the segment [with Town & Country and Dodge Caravan] so we see growth here, and we think there's room for us to grow. We think that need for family transportation that addresses passengers and packages great features and benefits into a vehicle is growing."