Chrysler Taps Interest in Games

The Chrysler Group will spend $20 million this year on Internet advertising and interactive projects, doubling last year’s budget, a marketing executive with the automaker said.

A substantial portion of the budget will go to banner ads on Web portals, including AOL, Yahoo! and MSN, pushing consumers to the automaker’s Web site and its online promotional games, said Jeff Bell, Chrysler Group vp of marketing communications.

A game launching in June focuses on golf and highlights the pro-am special editions of the Concorde and 300M, developed with partner Taylor Made to include special-edition golf bags, clubs and a holding rack. Though used as a marketing tool, the games are designed by Chrysler to be as unobtrusive about their true intent as possible, Bell said.

The company is also debuting a game this month called DJ Mix Master, which encompasses Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge. Several more games will launch later this summer and fall for other Chrysler brands, he said.

“We would like to have in place examples of various types of interaction,” he said, including a customized game for each brand, a multiple brand game and partnerships to create CDs for gaming consoles as well as personal computers.

The strategy for the interactive projects is developed by lead Chrysler agency PentaMark Worldwide, Troy, Mich., along with the Arnell Group, New York, and Organic, Detroit. Those agencies work with interactive specialty companies to produce the games.

Bell said more money is being spent on interactive games because they work. Jeep EVO 4×4, an off-road simulation that was distributed on CD-ROM as well as at Jeep.com., increased traffic to Jeep.com by nearly 85,000 unique users within the first three weeks of launching, Bell said.

The gaming audience is broader—or at least older—than what might be suspected, he said. Chry sler found 90 percent of Jeep EVO registrants are over 18, with 52 percent between 18 and 30 and 37 percent over 31.

“Consumers are more receptive to gaming as a form of advertising than we anticipated,” Bell said. Five months down the road, Chrysler will be able to track sales that were generated directly from the games.

The automaker is also planning to put game kiosks in its dealerships in two to three years.