Huh? Chrysler Takes Detour into Social Activism

By Kiran Aditham 

With BBDO out of the picture and Italian agency Armando Testa in, Chrysler has taken a peculiar turn with its effort to befriend the American public again.

To promote the new Chrysler 300 sedan, the brand has supplanted celebrity spokespeople and the usual automotive ad narratives for social activism in a new spot that’s essentially dedicated to a global human rights campaign to free Burmese democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi, who’s been under house arrest for 14 years.


The 30-second spot features among other things operatic music, some soaring doves and Nobel Peace Laureates/former world leaders Mikhail Gorbachev and Lech Walesa rolling up in their 300s for a meeting of some sort. You can view the ad above but the result is nevertheless a head-scratcher.

In a statement, Chrysler CEO Olivier Francois–who basically had the agency retool a Fiat Lancia spot for the U.S. with this one–called the effort “a fight for peace.” He adds, “We produced the TV film in honor of all those who put their lives at stake in the hopes of making the world a better place.”

That’s nice and noble and all, but how does this ad pray tell resonate with an American audience? Julie Roehm, former Chrysler marketing chief, tells AdAge/Automotive News, “The message is a disconnect to what matters to people here. I don’t think the vast majority of Americas know who this woman is or frankly care.” Roehm adds that Chrysler has “no idea who their customer is in the U.S. or have a clue how to connect with them.”

Judge for yourself whether this is a bold move or a completely misguided one.

Via Detroit Free Press

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