Chrysler’s “Imported from Detroit” is a failure

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

10 September 2013

Imported from Detroit is just a little too clever

Firstly, before I jump all over the themeline, I want to give some credit to the Chrysler marketing group. The messaging from the US automobile industry is mundane at its best. The ideas that circulate from one to another are about as fresh as the NBA head coach rotation. The idea of Imported from Detroit was fresh and, I believe, considered.

“The first seemed evident way back when it launched the theme — it was trite and clever.”


ChryslerI believe Chrysler had market research that held imports as the gold standard in the US market. It was a huge move for US automakers to understand that the worm had turned and that many imports emotionally represented a better automobile. I have to tell you, if you want to steal market share, you had better identify and take action on the barriers that hold you back. Kudos to Chrysler for a good try.

There are two problems with this strategic bent that Chrysler took. Both problems require Chrysler to reinvent once again, particularly when you look at Chrysler’s lagging sales.

The first seemed evident way back when it launched the theme — it was trite and clever. I say this because the best brand themes never seem clever. Think about ServePro and “like it never even happened.” Whenever your brand theme causes the target audience to notice how clever it is, it no longer sounds like a promise but rather sounds like marketing. Imported from Detroit was THAT right out of the gate. The strategy was right but the execution could not have been more wrong.

Now Chrysler must change the promise (and it is no REAL promise anyway). You see the second problem is sadly turning a theme into a joke. Detroit is bankrupt. Enough said.

See more posts in the following related categories: automotive advertising automotive branding Chrysler brand Imported from Detroit


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