Sex, cars and money - will it work for Chrysler?

Chrysler's new CEO is trying to infuse the stodgy brand with sex appeal. Will that be enough to save Chrysler?

By InvestorPlace Nov 12, 2009 2:28PM
By Jim Woods

Two of my favorite subjects are cars and sex. So, when I found out that automaker Chrysler and its Italian parent Fiat Group are planning a new sex-soaked advertising campaign, well, I had to throw in my two cents.

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According to a story on BusinessWeek, Olivier Francois, Chrysler’s chief executive and the man in charge of the Chrysler brand, showed a three-minute promotional video to car analysts and reporters that was dripping with “glamour, style, and sexual imagery.” 

The standout line from this video was, “Let’s make cars people want to make out in again.”

Hey, I’m all for making out, and I’m all for doing it in a sexy car, but will a pitch involving randy roadsters really work? Well, based on Francois’ track record with Fiat’s Lancia brand, it just may. 

Francois built up his winning resume as the head of Fiat’s luxury brand. This brand isn’t well known in the United States, but it is a top seller in Europe. Francois changed the fortunes of Lancia largely with his finesse for marketing.

One of his controversial ad campaigns for Lancia featured actor Richard Gere driving a Lancia Delta into Tibet. And while the ad itself wasn’t controversial, the showing of the ad during the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics caused huge controversy.

The Chinese, who have a long-standing conflict with Tibet, weren’t happy about the ad airing in their stadium while the whole world watched. But the ad served Lancia’s purpose, as the controversy got worldwide coverage.

Will the potential controversy from a racy imagine makeover and ad campaign help Chrysler? We’ll know soon enough, but based on my male nature, I say heck yeah! 

And, if I’m right, we could see a lot more sex in ad campaigns from other automakers like fiscally sound Ford (F) and Toyota (TM). These are companies you can invest in and actually make money -- and to me, there’s nothing sexier than that.

NOTE:  At the time of this writing, Jim Woods did not own any of the stocks mentioned here.

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