Marketing work is commonly diminished as an effort to trick people into buying things. Since cars are my field of expertise, I choose to express my opinion focusing on them… and it consists of profound disagreement. To me, marketing is primarily a way to show products to people; to present what they are and what they can offer.
If you are a frequent reader of my articles (thank you very much, first of all!), you have already seen several of them mentioning marketing, especially when it comes to advertising. The only way I have found to describe how important it is to car design is by showing examples whenever I see one. And now we are about to visit yet another one.
Way of the World
While the K-cars were successful enough to save Chrysler from bankruptcy, by the end of the decade it was time to think of their replacement. The company would execute its next big project in the 1990s, informally referred to as LH cars, so it went through a transitional period with only evolutionary updates based on low-cost, proven solutions.
The problem with that strategy is that “reasonable” and “understandable” just do not sell. That was particularly harmful to Plymouth because it was defined as the budget-oriented division of the Chrysler group; the others could at least use their emotional appeal to stay competitive. In 1989, the company decided to try a novel approach to that.
It Takes Two
After a lukewarm beginning of her solo career, Tina Turner would finally live up to her potential in the mid-1980s. The success of Let’s Stay Together led her to the Private Dancer album, several other hits, millions of copies sold around the world, and a role with Mel Gibson in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, not to mention awards in both fields.
By the end of the decade, Turner had undergone a complete reinvention and became a true musical star. While North Americans felt national pride as well, the truth is that she built such a strong image for pursuing what she loves and honoring who she is and where she came from. The Chrysler group saw a big chance to propose collaboration.
What You Get Is What You See
Simply put, the series of TV commercials featured one Plymouth car each, and Tina Turner would talk a little to present their specific qualities. However, that was far from a typical corporate speech: Turner made sure to give her touch to all them. This article has all the commercials I could find on YouTube, but feel free to share if you find others.
She delivered an impactful speech in front of the Voyager and crowned it with a killer stare. She dared potential customers to resist the Sundance after a test drive. She presented the Acclaim’s spacious cabin by fitting “six big, gorgeous men” inside. Finally, she let the announcer make the Laser seem a consolation prize compared to herself.
We Don’t Need Another Hero
There were no special cars, no movie-like effects, no professional driving… in fact, Tina Turner was not even requested to sing. The reason is simple: none of that was necessary. The videos presented the cars as they are and highlighted features that are actually relevant to the target audience. What could be better for the budget-oriented Plymouth?
Even more significant was the tagline: the announcer would close with “Laser, from Plymouth”, for example, to give the car some gravitas, and Turner would follow with a reassuring “That’s right, Plymouth”. After all, who said that such interesting and affordable cars could only be sold by Chrysler, Dodge or any of Plymouth’s direct competitors?
Plymouth would get three new models after that time, the most interesting of them being the Prowler. However, it succumbed to its declining sales in 2001, right when its parent company merged to create DaimlerChrysler. What other interesting information do you know about that phase of Plymouth’s history? Feel free to share it below!