Cannes Chrysler Brand Fly Higher?

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Among brand marketers honored at the 2011 Cannes Lions awards, which wrapped up on Sunday, Chrysler won five awards for “Born of Fire,” the kick-off to its 2011 “Imported From Detroit” campaign that debuted during the Super Bowl in February.

Featuring Detroit native Eminem, the Chrysler 200 sedan, and the gritty spirit of Motor City, the commercial – and the resulting accolades – were only steps on the way toward the company’s goal of fully defining the Chrysler brand and etching it in the minds of American consumers, according to the brand’s marketing head.

“We’re not mainstream or vanilla; there is something special about this brand,” said Melissa Garlick, head of advertising for the Chrysler brand, to brandchannel.[more]

She added that the 200 spot and campaign “talked luxury to a relevant audience, to people who come from blue-collar and hard-working roots. Our consumers are a little ‘light blue.’ At the end of the day, people work hard for the money they have and they want something nice that they have to show for it.”

“No disrespect,” Garlick added, “but that’s a little different than a silver spoon mentality.”

Clearly, the Cannes awards were the cherry on top of previous international acclaim for the Eminem ad, while the 200 is selling much better than the Chrysler Sebring that it replaced. But no one at Chrysler has claimed the product itself is a world-beater, and even some of the brand’s own radio ads for the 200 soft-pedal the vehicle’s tangible attributes.

But the brand overhaul continues with the debut of Chrysler’s new, full-sized 300 sedan, a reworking of the last hit nameplate for the brand, several years ago.

The idea of aspirational luxury continues with new TV spots that feature hard workers who’ve bootstrapped their way to the top, from Dr. Dre to Ndamakong Suh, the Detroit Lions defensive tackle who made it to the Pro Bowl last year as a rookie. And a new print ad from the 300 in the new issue of WSJ. magazine features a photo of a little boy and the headline, “A Car for the Person You Set Out to Be.”

Garlick believes the attempt to solidify Chrysler as a near-luxury brand — long a goal of whichever entity has owned the company — is beginning to get solid traction. She noted that Chrysler ranked 17th in the fourth quarter of last year in KBB’s listing of cool automotive brands; lately it’s been in third place.

“That’s a lot of positive momentum,” she said.

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