New Chrysler 200 ad campaign debuts during Lions game

Michael Wayland
The Detroit News

A screenshot from the ad campaign that kicked off Sunday morning during the Detroit Lions-Atlanta Falcons game.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV is launching a new quadrilingual advertising campaign to benchmark the 2015 Chrysler 200 against its foreign counterparts.

The first ad for the new "Ready to Take on the World" campaign kicked off Sunday morning as the Detroit Lions took on the Atlanta Falcons in London, and it may have flabbergasted some viewers at first.

The spot starts in Japanese with subtitles describing different quality and technology characteristics of what the voiceover actor believes to be a Japanese vehicle, before realizing that he's actually describing the all-new 200. The ad then shifts to an English voiceover introducing the all-new Chrysler 200: "Reliability is now an American thing. Introducing the all-new Chrysler 200, America's Import."

"It's about explaining our product, but with a unique twist," said Chrysler Group LLC Chief Marketing Officer Olivier Francois during a phone interview. "You are kind of obliged to look at the screen."

At least three other similar ads will follow in Swedish and German, according to Francois. The German ads focus on performance; Swedish on safety; and Japanese on quality. The commercials feature "The Fire" by The Roots.

All of the ads, Francois said, focus on the characteristics of the vehicle more than previous ad campaigns. Advertising for the 2015 200 launched with a two-minute Super Bowl spot featuring musician Bob Dylan introducing the vehicle as "American's Import," followed by the first full campaign called "Born Makers" in June and a special ad featuring Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera for the MLB playoffs.

Francois described the new campaign as a "bolder" approach than "Born Makers," adding Chrysler has always done things its own way since the former Chrysler brand head started overseeing its marketing and advertising in 2011.

"It's not traditional. It's not even in the English language," he said. "I think this is an attention-getter."

Francois sees the new ads as a continuation of the critically-acclaimed 2011 Super Bowl ad featuring Eminem introducing the tagline "Imported from Detroit" for the brand and the first-generation 200.

"The message is still the same, but its details progress," he said. "We started with Detroit is back, then we evolved to America is back … and now it's the next step, America is ready to take on the world."

Francois said no decision has been made as to if the "America's Import" tagline will be used for the rest of the Chrysler brand's vehicles.

The 2015 200, introduced by brand CEO and President Al Gardner as its "flagship sedan," is arguably the most important vehicle for the automaker this year. The company spent roughly $1 billion to upgrade Sterling Heights Assembly Plant, where the vehicle is produced, and it replaces the first-generation 200 and Dodge Avenger in the highly-competitive mid-size sedan segment.

"From the all-new plant built to manufacture an all-new car, the Chrysler 200 has been reinvented from the ground up, setting an expectation for consumers of what to expect from the brand in the years to come," Gardner said in a statement.

In September, Chrysler sold about 11,000 200s, up 15 percent compared to a year ago. However, total sales of the 200 through September are down 27 percent — driving the brand to decline 6 percent through the first nine months of the year.

The 2015 200 was unveiled at the 2014 North American international Auto Show in January and arrived in dealerships in May. The vehicle starts at $21,700, excluding destination charges.

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