Chrysler Chief Marketing Officer Olivier Francois said the chance to help
Motown creator Berry Gordy promote "Motown: The Musical" was an opportunity
"we could not pass on."
The Auburn Hills automaker and Gordy have formed a marketing partnership that has been called unprecedented on Broadway.
Chrysler is airing a commercial nationally with Gordy driving a Chrysler 300, even though there is no guarantee that the musical will be a success. The marketing campaign also includes a billboard in Times Square and other marketing support that the New York Times says has an estimated value of $6 million-$8 million.
"It's not 'Chrysler Presents Motown,' which is a sponsorship," said show co-producer Kevin McCollum. "Yes, Chrysler wants to sell cars, but they're putting a lot of dollars behind the emotional relationship of what Motown means to their company."
Francois said the idea to support the musical came out of meetings with Don Coleman, chairman and CEO of ad agency GlobalHue, and Doug Morris, CEO of Sony Music Entertainment.
"When you have an opportunity like this ... there is just one thing that you have to consider: Is it going to be just a partnership? Or is it something that goes deeper because it is true and meaningful?" Francois said.
The marketing partnership with the musical gave Chrysler a chance to link itself with music that represents Detroit at its peak of cultural influence. The Chrysler brand, with just over 2 percent market share in the U.S. in 2012, was outsold by Subaru and Volkswagen last year.
"Chrysler needs to consolidate its brand positioning and push the statement a little bit further ... and the tie to Motown is perfect," Francois said. " 'Motown' is about the heart and soul of Detroit. ... The soul is music and the heart is the automobile."
For the producers, Chrysler brought vast marketing resources that a musical could only dream of.
"Chrysler is also doing the city of Detroit a great service by attaching to this, taking the best of the best and reminding the world what can happen in Detroit," McCollum said.
Chrysler even created a special edition version of its Chrysler 300 sedan to accompany the campaign. The 2013 Chrysler 300 Motown Edition is scheduled to arrive by spring with a starting price of $33,990.
It includes a bright chrome front and rear fascia accents, mirror caps, door handles and 20-inch polished aluminum wheels. Inside, the special version of the Chrysler 300 includes 100 tracks from original Motown recording artists on a USB memory stick and a 10-speaker audio system.
Francois said he expects Chrysler will sell several thousand Chrysler 300 Motown Editions.
The marketing deal with Gordy also is the third version of Chrysler's groundbreaking Super Bowl commercial from 2011 with the "Imported from Detroit," theme.
In the Super Bowl ad, rap star Eminem ends the commercial when he says, "This is the Motor City, and this is what we do."
The second version was a commercial with hip-hop star and producer Dr. Dre that introduced a new sound system for Chrysler called Beats by Dr. Dre.
"This is L.A., and this is what we do," Dre says in that commercial.
In the 60-second spot with Gordy, the legendary Motown producer gets out of a white Chrysler 300 as he arrives in New York City and says: "We are Motown, and this is what we do."
But Francois said the Gordy version might be the final version of the theme.
"It is reminiscent (of the Super Bowl ad), and that is intentional. ... But I won't go any further down this path," Francois said. "We made a Detroit story, we made an L.A. story, and now we made a New York story. This is it."
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