Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A campaign I hate (and love)

Personally, I hate the new Dodge Durango campaign featuring Will Ferrell. It feels gimmicky, forced and just doesn't speak to me.

But I'm a also big fan of this campaign.

What? How can I hate it and be a fan?

In a word, positioning. 

It's an old marketing term made famous by Jack Trout and Al Reis in the book Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, and it's as relevant today as it was 32 years ago when the book was published in 1981.

This campaign is funny. It's disruptive. It's memorable. It's Will Ferrell at his finest. More importantly it actually positions the vehicle in the minds of potential buyers.

Dodge Durango is a mid-size SUV competing with Ford Explorer, Chevy Traverse, Toyota 4Runner and others of its ilk. A cursory review of the marketing for all these nameplates leads me to believe that none of these companies are doing a good job of creating a differentiated positioning for the products in this space. They're all go anywhere, do anything vehicles for you and your family. 

So I give Dodge credit for doing something different. I noticed. And I'm sure millions of others did also. The positioning take away is that the Durango is the bad boy of the category. The mid-size SUV that's powerful, rough around the edges and maybe a little bit more fun. 

I like that this campaign (and the Dodge brand in general) is not trying to be all things to all people. And it's the positioning that gives it that edge. They know what they're about, who they're for, who they're not for and how they're going to be different. Assuming this product delivers on that expectation and an SUV with those characteristics is relevant to enough people, this campaign should be a success. 

This positioning isn't for me. I prefer my rides a bit more sophisticated, but at least Dodge is not delivering ads that are bland – or worse yet invisible – which is the case with Honda, Nissan, Ford, Chevy and so many other car companies.