Chrysler Bites Back At Ad Age Over Ask Dr. Z Campaign


Chrysler is mad as hell at Advertising Age and isn't going to take it any longer. Reacting to a story by Jean Halliday on Chrysler's Ask Dr. Z campaign in which she pretty much trashes the campaign saying it didn't do much for the automaker, Jason Vines wrote an article on the company's The Firehouse press blog entitled "Truth Takes A Halliday." In the article, Jason lays out data which contradicts Halliday's article and claims the campaign is doing just fine. Since, in the inimitable wisdom of Vines who publicly promoted the blog when it launched but limited it only to "known and established media organizations," we can't link to the story so we'll just reprint it in its entirety here until Jason asks us to remove it. You'd think he'd want more than just press to see this good stuff. And Jason, we're not anonymous. Just click the About link above.

Truth Takes a Halliday

Posted Aug 3, 2006, 12:00 PM by Jason Vines
Category: The Fire Hose

Advertising Age writer Jean Halliday must have a wonderful imagination, since she must have dreamed up most of the content in her "news-slash-opinion" story on the Ask Dr. Z advertising campaign Halliday decided her manufactured story earlier this week just wasn't enough, so she decided to do an on-line piece as a follow-up to what is looking more and more like a personal jihad against our campaign.

Halliday spins all sorts of fairytales, writing the campaign "did little to lure prospective buyers," that consumers missed the Employee Pricing Plus message and were "unmoved by the German-engineering positioning or the DaimlerChrysler chairman, whom they overwhelmingly believed was a fictional character."

Facts should be the basis for a reporter's story, but Halliday didn't bother to seek them, so we'll do her job for her.

Here they are:

An independent study performed by IAG Research found the Dr. Z campaign "significantly outperformed" almost every one of what the leading advertising research organization calls its "norms."
Dr. Z Campaign IAG Auto Norm
General Recall 50% 43%
Brand Recall 29% 22%
Message Recall 24% 16%
LIkeability 16% 12%
Brand Linkage 59% 52%
Message Linkage 81% 69%
Likeability Linkage 54% 53%

If that's not enough, here's some more--results from our own corporate research. We spoke with 254 buyers by phone between July 25 and July 30 to help understand reaction to Employee Pricing Plus.
Our key findings:

*83 percent said they were "aware" of the program
*38 percent said their awareness was driven by television...the highest score for any medium.
*45 percent said awareness of Employee Pricing Plus had a strong influence on their decision to shop for a new vehicle and 55 percent said the offer had a significant influence on their decision to buy a new vehicle.
*The percentage of those trading in another make vehicle for a Chrysler, Dodge or Jeep® increased from the first quarter of this year.
GM: 17 percent vs 13 percent in Q1
Ford: 15 percent vs 10 percent in Q1
Imports: 14 percent vs. 10 percent in Q1 Traffic to our brand websites is up 15.1 percent since the commercials began running and sales leads from the Internet are up 27.1 percent.

Yes, sales were down in July, but that's compared to a record month last year when all three domestic automakers ran employee pricing programs. But, as we stated on the media and analyst sales call on August 1, more importantly, our retail sales were up 9 percent over June--the month the campaign wasn't running.
One other point of clarification: Ms Halliday stated that our campaign would cost around $225 million. The truth is it is around $100 million and that figure includes DAA or dealer advertising association money. That truthful, non-manufactured number wasn't hard to find. George Murphy, our Senior Vice President of Marketing, stated it at the June 30th press briefing in Auburn Hills.

Jean, two questions: where do you come up with this stuff, and weren't you at that press briefing? There you go, Jean. Those are facts. They're not hard to recognize. All you have to do is look for them. Doh!

by Steve Hall    Aug- 4-06   Click to Comment   
Topic: Brands, Campaigns, Good, Research   

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The campaign still sucks.

Posted by: rat on August 4, 2006 10:42 AM

Adrants: I consider most blogs as media, so if you want to register for the, I will have our gatekeeper set it up.

Posted by: Jason Vines on August 4, 2006 11:23 AM

Yep that campaign sucks. You have to really listen to the dude to understand if he is really saying any thing, which he isn't. This redneck doesn't have time or interest to pay that much attention to a bad Chrysler commerical.

Posted by: roy on August 4, 2006 11:25 AM

Jason. Cool I wasn't clear if you saw it that way at the outset though. I'll register:-)

Posted by: Steve Hall on August 4, 2006 11:59 AM

I consider myself to be pretty much on the ball when it comes to being aware of ads, but I gotta admit that Ive never even heard of this campaign... Maybe Im losing it?

Posted by: Sean on August 4, 2006 12:01 PM

they're now tied in with the "is that a hemi?" redneck.. also dr.z ads can be found all over yahoo + yahoo mail.

Posted by: brent on August 4, 2006 12:04 PM

16 and 12% likeability? Is that really a stunning claim? What have we come to?

Posted by: Tom Tom on August 4, 2006 1:31 PM

I think everyone is missing the most disturbing thing in this ad: The doofus asking Dr. Z questions is the Gay Ku Klux Klansmen from Chapelle Show.

Posted by: Canaan on August 4, 2006 2:01 PM

Successful or not, it's annoying as hell! Send Dr. Z back to his office in Germany. Who thought this was a good concept? Are they still working?

Posted by: JJ on August 4, 2006 2:06 PM

This campaign is absolutely terrible. There's nothing to take away. That spot with the soccer mom? Adschool students would come up with better.

Posted by: george on August 4, 2006 2:14 PM

FYI, for those who've somehow missed it, here's the online ad with Dr. Z --

Posted by: adverlicious on August 4, 2006 3:42 PM

One fact for Vines to digestů

Self-respecting advertising creatives who praise Dr. Z campaign: 0%

Posted by: HighJive on August 4, 2006 4:14 PM

It seems to me that you're all talking as if this campaign was born in a vacuum! Am I the only one who sees this as a harkening back to the golden days of Lee Iaccoca's ad campaigns? Not everyone liked them, either; but I don't see how anyone can claim that they weren't a major factor in Chrysler's rebirth.

The main thing I see working against the current series (and I don't believe I've seen the whole thing yet), it's the fact that it departs too much from the blunt Iaccoca formula, sliding back towards the realm of more conventional ads.

I like Dr. Z. There. I said it!

Posted by: Mark H on August 5, 2006 12:39 AM

>>Am I the only one who sees this as a harkening back to the golden days of Lee Iaccoca's ad campaigns?

Um, yes.

Posted by: HighJive on August 5, 2006 12:48 AM

Ok I just spent parts of two days and nights in a hotel room in Springfield, Missouri grasping for anything on the boob tube to watch. After seeing this mess at least a dozen times, Dr. Z. is not Lee Iaccoa. Throw in the play like reneck and I didn't quite throw up but I did think about it often. It doesn't work, even a little bit!!!!!

Posted by: Roy on August 7, 2006 6:45 PM

Even the Boston Globe is complaining about this ad.

Look at this:

I think the add is EXTREMLY lame.

Posted by: Danielle on August 8, 2006 9:28 AM

What is the soccor mom trying to ask, or say, to Dr. Z? I don't "get it."

Posted by: dave west on August 11, 2006 4:58 PM

What is the soccor mom trying to ask, or say, to Dr. Z? I don't "get it."

Posted by: dave west on August 11, 2006 4:58 PM

I think this is a terrible campaign born of a wonderful idea. They've made their CEO the center of the ad -- a good idea if he's eccentric. They've given him some throwaway lines and put him in could-be funny situations. But they didn't capitalize on the fact that he's funny and the CEO. So, in essence, they hid the joke. They buried the lead. And now, they should bury this campaign.

Chrysler's response is way too defensive. Obviously they've got a lot invested in this effort, maybe internally as much as externally.

Posted by: Rich on August 16, 2006 2:23 PM

I think the basics of the idea are fair enough - especially since Zetsche has a very good natural way of talking to the public.

The problem really just lies in the actual concept and execution of the ad - looks like too many people at work with no clear idea of what they wanted to actually focus on.

One thing though that I have real doubts about: does it really make an American brand look more attractive, if it needs to borough some glory from it┤s German partner brand?

To me, the whole "German engineering" sounds like you don┤t really believe in your own strenght any more

Posted by: Alex on September 20, 2006 11:37 AM