Dealer Lou Giordano thinks the Jeep brand nailed it with both its all-new Grand Cherokee and an ad campaign that hammers home a buy-American and high-quality message for Chrysler Group LLC.
Giordano runs Croton Auto Park in Croton-on-the Hudson, NY, selling Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Ram brands. He is the current chairman of the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Assn.
“The Grand Cherokee is the No.1-selling SUV in the northeast region here and the first vehicle built under Fiat (Automobile Spa) ownership and Sergio Marchionne as Chrysler's CEO,” he says. “It's so refined and comfortable.”
Giordano and other dealers didn't know the music in the Jeep Manifesto ads is based on a Johnny Cash song called “God's Gonna Cut You Down.”
Not included in the ads are the song's fire-and-brimstone lyrics that some people may find objectionable. What remains are hammer-pounding industrial sounds as background music.
But if quality is back is the main message, dealers are happy. Giordano thinks Chrysler was right to wait until the vehicle was perfect before bringing it to market.
Most dealers just want Chrysler's iconic Jeep to keep bringing in customers. Giordano's year-to-date sales are up about 10%, he says.
The ad campaign is spurring customer interest in the new Jeep in Montana, a strong truck and SUV market, says Kevin Smith, sales manager at Lithia Chrysler Jeep Dodge of Billings.
“It's the best campaign they've run yet,” he says. “Customers are coming in saying they've seen the commercial and they'd like to see the vehicle.”
Chrysler seems happy with the campaign's response. “We've gotten overwhelming response through our social-media site, letters and elsewhere,” says spokeswoman Dianna Gutierrez.
Some dealers such as DCH Chrysler Jeep Dodge in Temecula, CA, are promoting the ad on their websites and urging customers to note Cherokee's strong product message.
Aaron Allen of the W+K, the agency that did the ads, says, “While we are, of course, engaging SUV buyers — both those shopping up into European and Asian makes and those buying domestically — it is vital America at large sees and feels that Jeep, through the '11 Grand Cherokee, is back.”
It also is back with a quality message, backed by independent appraisals. For example, Consumer Reports, which previously has rapped the quality of some Jeep products, gave the Grand Cherokee a “very good” road test score.
“The Grand Cherokee is a big improvement over the previous model,” David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports' auto test center, says.