The Dodge Brothers As the Dukes of Hazzard

The Dodge Brothers As the Dukes of Hazzard


It takes more than old-school muscle to sell today’s Dodge Challenger and Charger.

Dodge minivans, SUVs, and cars together account for about 3.5% of vehicles sold.  That’s about one-fourth the market share of either Ford, Toyota or Chevrolet.  Since a good chunk of Dodge’s 3.5% is minivans and SUVs, Dodge isn’t selling very many cars.

When people think about buying a new car, the Dodge brand doesn’t pop into their head.  Dodge lacks mental availability and that’s a big problem.  If buyers don’t spontaneously think of Dodge, the brand doesn’t make it into the buyer’s consideration set.  Buyers pay the most attention to and have the most confidence in brands that come most easily to mind.

Dodge needs a bigger mental footprint, but Dodge is not going to get it from this ad.  At the beginning of the ad, the brand name is said once and on screen for 3 seconds out of 60.  The brand name is never heard or seen again.  The ad concludes with 2 seconds of the logo on the screen without the name.  What’s the Dodge logo?  Good question.  Few people know.  The Dodge logo is two parallel, short, red, bars slanting from the lower left to the upper right.  The idea is that the bars are reminiscent of racing stripes.  It would be easy to see this commercial and have no idea who’s the advertiser.

Since the Dodge brand doesn’t easily come to mind and the logo is unrecognized, why not make the name and logo central to the ad rather than relegated to a billboard at the very beginning and end?

Let’s talk about what is central to the ad.  The ad shows the founding Dodge brothers racing each other in Dodge vehicles down through the years.   The ad promises that exhilarating, muscle car experience that has been the essence of the Dodge cars for a long time.  Is that promise what Dodge cars need today?

When Dodge does make it into a buyer’s consideration set, that buyer already knows Dodge manufactures muscle cars.  Reminding buyers of that Dodge manufactures fast cars isn’t going to change anyone’s mind.   If Dodge makes it into the consideration set, and the buyer chooses something else, it’s because the buyer is looking for more than mindless muscle.  They are looking for contemporary muscle, muscle with a little bit of style, or class, quality or something.  Dodge could be modern automotive muscle.  The company founders doing their best Dukes of Hazzard impression is old-school, outdated muscle.

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