As the economy slumps and gas prices rise, Chrysler LLC wants to remind consumers that cars can still be fun.
To that end, the automaker is launching a corporate advertising campaign featuring the tagline "If you can dream it, we can build it."
A similar theme — "If you can dream it, do it" — is at the heart of the ad campaign for Chrysler's Dodge Journey crossover, which went on sale in the U.S. in February.
The first all-new Dodge since Cerberus Capital Management LP acquired an 80.1 percent stake of Chrysler in August, the 2009 Journey is designed to stand apart from the growing pack of crossovers — the market's fastest-growing segment — with flexible seating and storage. The Journey comes standard with two rows of seats and an optional third row that allows seating for seven.
The crossover, which blends features of passenger cars and sport utility vehicles, will have a base price of $19,985. Its standard 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine gets 19 miles per gallon in city driving and 25 mpg on the highway.
With 70 percent of Journey buyers expected to be first-time buyers of a Chrysler product, the new crossover presents "a conquest opportunity for Dodge," said Mark Spencer, senior manager of communications for the division.
Dodge will dedicate a company-record 29 percent of its ad campaign to interactive programs targeted to two main groups: young singles and couples, and families with young children; and empty nesters aged 46 to 65. "Both are in a period of change and are optimistic about it," Spencer said.
In addition to online, television, print and movie-theater advertising, Dodge will become a sponsor of the U.S. Soccer Federation and the Journey will be the official vehicle of both the men's and women's national soccer teams.
The corporate ads carry a broader theme of responsiveness to the consumer, a point Chrysler hopes to underscore by creating a consumer advisory board.
The Journey ads debut this week and the corporate campaign begins next week.
The optimism of the new campaigns hasn't blinded Chrysler to the realities of the U.S. auto market. Chairman and Chief Executive Bob Nardelli said in March — when Chrysler sales fell by 19 percent from year-earlier levels — that the automaker has cut jobs and factory capacity and so it can get through a deeper slowdown.