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How Chrysler Sold the Underdog Segment

. . . and what YOU can learn from it!

In the slew of tweets and blog posts about the best/the funniest/the commercial with the most primate extras/etc., this post is about the creative strategy that Chrysler flexed on Super Bowl Sunday and what every “underdog segment” can learn from it.

In his compelling Forbes article, the “3 Keys to Competing,” August Turak describes how, long after becoming a huge company, Campbell’s was still spending millions of dollars touting “Soup is Good Food.” Campbell’s realized that the real competition was not the soup made by Heinz or Progresso but everything consumers eat instead of soup. Campbell’s spent big dollars promoting soup in general, despite the fact that this also benefitted its direct competitors.

Chrysler, a beaten and broken domestic car maker whose image epitomizes the “up-against-the-ropes” state of the American car industry, took a similarly poignant stance on Super Bowl Sunday. They sold Detroit – the heart, blood, sweat and tears of the city. They told the story of not just Chrysler, but all American carmakers. It was a full two-minute heartfelt call to Americans: Detroit is still here, and we are still doing great things. It was gritty, dark and very emotional. Will Chrysler sell more 200s because of the spot? Maybe, maybe not. Did they thrust all Detroit-made vehicles back to the forefront of Americans’ minds? Most definitely. Chrysler did a service to American-made cars, and in doing so, helped their competitors as well. However, that’s just what needed to happen to bring a failing industry – and a broken city – back from the brink.

Underdog segments stand to learn a lot from Campbell’s Soup and Chrysler. They need to sell their segments, not just their own proprietary products and services. They need to sell why their segment is better than other options – not with a set of bullet points or comparative charts, but with impactful messaging. They need to find their “Soup is Good Food” message.

It is up to the ad agency to bring that to the table for them and it is up to them to pull the trigger.

We’re ready . . . are you?



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