Monday, September 29, 2008

Doing it Dodge(y) style

In this heady pre-ballot phase, hardly a day passes without my favourite American expat in Germany voicing his surprise whenever Europeans, whether in the media or in person, express their bewilderment about the possibility that the McCain and Palin nightmare-team might have a serious chance of winning the US-election. "Europeans just don't get America", he mutters, in the face of our all too optimistic expectation that a November triumph for this charming Mr Obama is inevitable.

Well, things also work the other way round: Americans don't get Europe. Because if they did, somebody would have told US car manufacturer Dodge that promising Germans a cheap deal on a new car will not make them have more babies.

Dodge, you see, is seriously worried about the declining birthrate in Germany, as Der Spiegel can reveal. The 1,37 Kinder produced per Frau, a recent company press release points out, make this country bottom of the league in Europe, nay the world. Whether this is actually true, is another question - some figures lead to a slightly different conclusion. But let's not be finicky.

In any case, in an act of corporate concern and generosity, Dodge has come up with a (pro-)creative solution, promoted via the ad-campaign Helden zeugen. The slogan, admittedly, is a cute little pun, meaning both "heroes reproduce" and "produce heroes". That's about as funny as it gets. Customers mad enough to want to buy a grotesque gas-guzzling Dodge monstrosity will have the leasing rates deferred for nine months (clever joke, eh?) if they are able to present a positive pregnancy test.

You can just imagine it, can't you? Hundreds of German couples storming their nearest Dodge-dealers, waving little plastic DIY pregnancy kits like magic wands and screaming: "Look: two stripes!"

Behind this smutty nudge-nudge, wink-wink campaign (for more untranslatable punning see the Spiegel article) is of course the fact that Dodge itself is at the bottom of a league table, albeit a different one: sales of cars in Germany.

I suppose one must wish Dodge luck for their daring - and, I presume, doomed, project. For whether it comes to birth rates or sales rates, I suspect that they won't succeed.


Anonymous said...

If only people would read before they write. The Dodge Journey that is promoted with this Ad-campaign comes with a 2 Liter Volkkswagen Diesel Engine (that was build in over 1 Million Golfs for the last years) and that consumes only 6,5 Liters/ 100km. So talking about Gas guzzlers just shows you have no idea about the theme.
You truly can discuss if you should mix a personal issue like getting pregnant with a public add campaign. But still: I think its quite funny...

The Wife said...

Just for the record: The "theme" of my post was not the low energy efficiency of this or any other type of car. My reference to gas-guzzlers was just an offhand (but certainly not incorrect) comment in the context of a different issue altogether: the advertising campaign in question.

So much for reading before writing.

And no: it's not funny, that campaign. It's juvenile in an American Pie sort of way. Which is ok for American Pie sort of products, but in this case it promises to miss the customers it allegedly targets.

But maybe these customers are not the actual target of this campaign anyway. Maybe it's directed at the kind of rednecky Hun that I envisage to be driving a Dodge. Now that would be cunning indeed.

J. Carter Wood said...

If I may step in, dear....

Listen, our anonymous friend from Stuttgart (who seems to have written in from DaimlerChrysler, which happens to be the former owner of Dodge), I'd suggest you take some of your own advice.

You may have noticed, for instance, in your close reading of our humble blog that the 'gas guzzling' reference was one offhand comment in a post about something else.

Which would be a minor point, and we're happy here to take in different points of view if they're expressed politely.

However, since you decided to be not only anonymous but also insulting (a very bad combination)...

You are correct that one of the engines offered on the Dodge Journey (only outside of North America) is a 2.0 turbo diesel.

Diesels being generally more efficient than petrol motors, it comes in -- according to the company's website -- at a combined fuel consumption of 8,4/5,4/6,5 l/100 km (city/highway/combined).

For American readers, this comes to 28/44/36 mpg. Which is pretty respectable, especially considering that the three Dodge Journey models sold in the US have mileage rates (city/highway) of 19/25, 16/23 and 15/23.

Which is, I think it's fair to say, pretty poor.

But even in Germany, the vehicle that you imply only 'comes with' a reasonably efficient 2 litre diesel, also comes in another diesel variant with somewhat lower efficiency.

And you can also buy it with what looks to be the same 2.4 litre petrol motor available in America (it seems to be the first one of the American motors listed above, getting the rather paltry 19 city / 25 highway mpg.)

Now, since the Journey is not only being sold as a 'family' car but also as a 'family-pack of adrenalin', I think we can safely assume that a fair proportion of the people who buy it (mainly men I presume) are going to opt for the full-PS version.

Considering that this is essentially being sold as a way to cart around a couple of adults and a kid or two around the Stadt, there are many ways of doing so at far higher rates of fuel efficiency.

We, for example, just completed a journey around France in excellent comfort...and at a combined 4.3 l/100km (around 55 mpg).

'Gas guzzler' still seems about right to me, pal...

I recommend thinking before typing next time.