Selling a car by selling Detroit

The troubles of Detroit have been well documented and discussed in the American media in recent years (see here and here). So why would Chrysler mount a full advertising campaign (and I see this commercial almost every commercial break at times) based on Detroit  for its new 200 model? See the long-form (2:03) video here.

The entire campaign seems to be built around this idea that Detroit is something different: the ad says it is not New York, Chicago, or Las Vegas. While we get some typical shots, of a high school team running and a woman ice skating, the emphasis is on their hard work. The scenes on the street are at night with steam coming out of manhole covers as the 200 rolls along. The longer ad features Eminen, perhaps the only celebrity known to most Americans as being from Detroit (does Kid Rock count?). And all of this is driven home by the tagline: “Imported from Detroit.”

Perhaps the strategy is this: why not take all of this talk about Detroit’s darker side (and the commercial mentions that this is a “town that has been to hell and back”) and turn it around so that the commercial makes a positive point about this gritty, tough, and edgy car. Will this explicit linking to Detroit, a city on the decline, boost sales of a particular car model? Do Detroit residents see this commercial as positive and representative of their city?

From minivan to “Man Van”

Perhaps the Toyota Sienna is not the only minivan men love (at least according to its commercials). According to the Wall Street Journal, Chrysler will be rolling out a “man van” version of the Grand Caravan in the coming months. The slightly different styling and interior will cater to men:

“A man van won’t generate huge sales, but it’s one of those vehicles that gets people talking and heads turning,” said one dealer. “We need that now. I mean if it gets one guy to give the minivan a second look, its worth it.”…

Chrysler’s man van may help overcome the stigma surrounding the minivan in the eyes of many men. With its focus on cup holders, sliding doors and a ho-hum driving experience, the minivan has an image as a boxy vehicle of convenience, driven by mothers to get the kids to soccer practice or pick up groceries.

The article seems to suggest this is more of a marketing ploy of anything else; the company is unlikely to sell a larger number of these to men but it could get people talking. And isn’t that most of the battle these days with products?