Characters Carry Chrysler’s SUV Message

NEW YORK DaimlerChrysler is launching an interactive and direct TV campaign this week that centers on a series of short sitcom-style features about a fictive family, the Mudds.

The episodic campaign, via Organic in New York, touting the new Jeep SUV Commander, will launch with a short film showing Brock Mudd, the father, pulling up in the vehicle, as the rest of the family hauls a store’s worth of kayaking, fishing, camping, hiking and generally outdoorsy equipment to the driveway.

Besides clothing, the Mudds wear mud, as each character is inexplicably streaked with loam. The films are to be featured on Further episodes will have the family embarking on a series of adventures with the vehicle.

Jeff Bell, vp of Chrysler and Jeep, conceded the vehicle is launching in challenging times for SUVs, but said Chrysler Group is adhering to a “value” pricing strategy versus an incentive approach. The Commander, about two inches longer than a Jeep Grand Cherokee, starts at around $26,485.

Bell said the vehicle would get 17 miles per gallon in the city and 24 on the highway. “It won’t be for everybody, but for people who need to carry seven people some of the time or all the time, it will be a value,” Bell said.

Besides the “Mudds” effort on the Internet, Jeep will run the ads on DTV on demand. “You will be able to watch all the ‘Webisodes’ as well as a long-form video of all the Mudd episodes on the Dish Network and on DirecTV,” said Bell. He added that there would also be interactive pages on the satellite-TV channels where consumers could see product specs and pricing, and behind-the-scenes content, such as character bios.

Bell said the second phase of the “Mudds” campaign will have the characters making cameo appearances on Web sites and blogs. “This idea of using them as cameos is something very exciting for us,” he said. “If they take off in their own right, or gain a Web following, we would expand on it.”

Campaign spending is undisclosed.