Dodge Seeks Star for Hemi Campaign

NEW YORK DaimlerChrysler’s Chrysler Group is casting for a new campaign backing the 2006 iteration of its full-size pickup, the Dodge Ram.

The campaign, via BBDO, Detroit, includes TV, print and Internet elements, and a promotional tangent giving consumers the chance to star in launch ads.

The company will cast the so-called “Hemi Star” (the person to co-star in TV ads for the Hemi-powered pickup) via a national talent search for a new “Hemi Guy or Gal,” per a company statement.

Steven Landry, vp of marketing at Dodge, who stepped into that role this summer, said the Hemi focus of the ads is justified by the take rate. Per Landry, 60 percent of Ram 1500 buyers get it with the hemispherical cylinder heads. “Hemi has become a brand within our brands,” said Landry in a statement.

The talent search kicks off this Monday with a print ad featuring Jon Reep, the actor made famous by playing a hick in TV ads for Ram since 2002. Ads had him and his buddy pulling up to a guy in a Ram, and asking, “That thing got a Hemi?” The episodic campaign became more absurd as Reep vied to outdo the Ram in muscle, finally rolling up next to the Ram driver in a top-fuel dragster. He will also star in the new ads, and his picture will be placed next to a cutout white space where his ex-sidekick once stood that reads, “You Are Here.”

Two versions of the ad will run in national and local publications and promote open casting calls throughout the country at various events.

A 30-second launch spot also tees up the campaign by revealing the fate of Reep’s sidekick in last year’s ads. In late October, consumers will vote on finalists whose clips will be posted on the Hemi Star Web site. The winner will appear in two 30-second TV spots that will be created for the launch of the new vehicle and feature the Hemi Star character.

Dodge Ram trucks spent $115 million on ads in 2004 and $95 million during the first six months of this year, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.