Magazine article ADWEEK

Can a Flat This Big Be Fixed?

Magazine article ADWEEK

Can a Flat This Big Be Fixed?

Article excerpt

President Obama's auto task force has taken steps to ensure that Chrysler has one last shot at survival, but after General Motors joined the Auburn Hills gang in bankruptcy on June 1, the domestic automotive category looks like it will spend the rest of the year up on blocks. Chrysler's restructuring plan may ultimately preserve the livelihoods of its 26,000 UAW employees and the tens of thousands of dealers and suppliers that depend on the automaker's business. In the near term, however, the company will remain in limbo until its merger with Fiat is complete.

Meanwhile, with the Fed as arbiter of how the company spends its bailout money, Chrysler has been forced to slice its ad spend budget in half. The nameplate had hoped to drop some $135 million in a national prime-time TV campaign designed to remind consumers that it's still open for business.

The $67 million that the task force will let Chrysler spend obviously won't buy as much time or awareness, but the government also apparently recognizes that it can't yank the automaker's ad budget altogether. Testifying in bankruptcy court on May 4, Capstone Advisory Group executive director Robert Manzo said the task force understood that "marketing dollars are critical to make sure the fight message is out there about what's happening to Chrysler during this interim period and why Chrysler will be a brand going forward."

Executives at General Motors would probably kill to hear news as good as that. …

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