Officials at Fiat Chrysler’s most irreverent brand, Dodge, faced a dilemma – one that many automakers would love to tackle – when it captured the top spot in JD Power’s most recent APEAL and Initial Quality studies: how to mark the occasion.
Well, it essentially celebrated the way your loud uncle who thinks he’s funnier than is would celebrate, Dodge officials put on their tuxedo t-shirts and created a new social media campaign to tell the world the brand is No. 1.
Released today, the first entry is called “Family Motto,” and it features actor Gary Cole reprising a much younger version of his role as Reese Bobby from the movie “Talladega Nights” to highlight the a quote from the film that best summarizes Dodge’s position on the award: “If you ain’t first, you’re last.”
The spot opens circa 1981 in Talladega County with Reese Bobby, in a new 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat, on a walkie talkie imploring his young son Ricky Bobby, who appears to be driving a 2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye and who yells, “I wanna go fast,” to pull the vehicle over.
During the chase, Ricky Bobby calls out to his best friend Cal Naughton Jr., who appears to pull up next to Ricky in a 2020 Dodge Challenger SRT Super Stock and who proudly proclaims, “I had Mountain Dew for breakfast,” to help him outrun his father by using the infamous Shake ‘n Bake maneuver (with a twist!), leaving his father proud and asking his son to remember the family motto, “if you ain’t first, you’re last.”
To be clear, the child actor also utters what may ultimately be the best line in the movie “Wake up in the morning and piss excellence,” in response to Cole telling him he needed to remember only one thing. Ultimately, he implored Ricky to remember the “if you ain’t first” line.
The spot, which is running on YouTube and in other places on the internet, is certainly the right mix of Dodge bravado, which gives the masses vehicles like an 800-horsepower four-door sedan, and acknowledgment of the honor, which JD Power higher ups expressed their support for to Dodge’s top executive, Tim Kuniskis, during a web conference with members of the media before the campaign hit.
Dodge, by Kuniskis’ admission, isn’t known for being serious in its advertising and promotional efforts. However, these are serious honors that the brand most definitely needed and wanted to tout to the masses. It took about “half a second” to decide to promote the award, according to Olivier Francois, FCA’s chief marketing officer.
Kuniskis and the marketing gurus at FCA hunkered down and soul-searched for a way to tell the world about these well-known and well-regarded awards the brand had achieved without sounding, well, insincere. He said spots showing people milling about in a room with company officials “wearing khakis” or hiring “a serious actor” – yes, not-so-gentle pokes at Chevrolet and Lincoln – isn’t the division’s style.
To ensure the spot, which ends with a 2020 Dodge Challenger SRT Super Stock, a 2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat and a 2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye pulling away from a JD Power trophy, was loud and brash enough, it features the first new song from AC/DC in six years, “Shot in the Dark” as the background music.