The Story Behind AdAge’s 2012 Marketer A List: Chrysler takes the lead

Friday - November 30th, 2012

Written by: Tristan Pelligrino

The Story Behind AdAge’s 2012 Marketer A List: Chrysler takes the lead

Story and truth are essential elements to the success of a brand, and nowhere is that more evident than in Chrysler’s recent accolade as AdAge’s 2012 marketer of the year. These elements have guided the advertising strategy of Chrysler since the appointment of Oliver Francois to head of marketing in late 2009. His team’s vision created advertisements that resonated strongly with American consumers, helping the brand’s market share increase from 8.9% to 11.5% since Francois’s promotion.

Francois made it the primary goal of his team to fundamentally reshape the story of Chrysler, as well as the story of the American auto industry. The effort centered around a restoration of pride in American ingenuity, and cast a more positive light on a region that many thought had seen its best days. “Imported from Detroit” became more than just another tagline; It was something consumers could rally around and know they were contributing to the resurgence of American workers. Consumers love a good story, especially that of a troubled city picking itself back up through hard work and dedication.

Chrysler’s pivotal Super Bowl advertisements proved to be significant in getting the story and truth aspects across to viewers. Beginning with the assembly line themed “The Things We Make, Make Us” and concluding with the “Halftime in America” spot featuring Clint Eastwood, these ads were widely successful in winning over the hearts and minds of consumers. Courageously admitting that Chrysler, indeed the region and its people, had seen very difficult times but was fighting to regain its past glory was both powerful and compelling. Americans couldn’t help but feel that they should be a part of the rebuilding process.

Francois and his team have totally transformed the dialogue about Chrysler, the American auto industry, and a region that had begun to be viewed as a wasteland by many citizens. Thanks to Chrysler’s marketing campaign, Detroit is beginning to once again be seen as a place of rebirth and growth, innovation and pride. Companies around the world can look to this excellent example of advancing a brand through truth and honesty, as well as a strong story behind the product.

In addition to Chrysler, some of the other notable companies that focused on story this year:

  • Beam Inc. revived slumping sales and a slightly archaic image by launching Red Stag, adding a hint of black cherry to its signature bourbon that appealed to younger consumers and women. Further expanding the Red Stag line, Beam incorporated new flavors paired with a creative story; Notably the “devils cut,” referring to the drops of bourbon left behind in the barrels during the aging process.
  • Chipotle’s “Back to the Start” campaign has provided a sales boost of 23.4% by tapping in to the sensibilities of the modern consumer. Their ads depict a pig farmer, once a slave of the commercial industry, breaking free to provide an example of environmentally sensible, sustainable agriculture. Truth is not sacrificed in these ads, as the company was able to stand up to challenges from the Better Business Bureau to prove their claims.
  • State Farm revitalized their aging image with catchy new taglines and innovative online applications. The Aaron Rogers signature dance (video below) featured in commercials spread across the entire NFL and entered popular culture, while the “Chaos in your town” app provided attractive interactivity for potential customers.

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