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The Detroit Free Press is running an article about DCX's recent 'ad campaign' change to start marketing to the 'hip-hop' crowd.

"The new Jeep Commander - the first Jeep SUV to offer third-row seating - will be rolled-out using a “urban, hip-hop” marketing campaign, according to Chrysler officials. As the first part of this campaign, it will be featured in Missy Elliot’s video “Lose Control”. Doesn’t that sound like a terrible song name to associate with a tall, boxy SUV? The manufacturer is in talks to expand its relationship with Elliot, which might include 30 seconds of Jeep-exclusive music from her, and a cameo appearance in TV ads for the Commander. As a three-time Grammy winner and the largest-selling female rapper of all time, Elliot probably stands a better chance of reaching young potential buyers than, say, Celine Dion. Art Spinella of CNW Marketing Reseach says it so you don’t have to - this is an attempt by Jeep to increase its sales among minorities, which recently have not been big purchasers of the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Chrysler is working with Elliott to create 30 seconds of unique music that is going to be featured in the first launch spot for the Commander, which is to hit dealerships in September, and footage of her is expected to be integrated in the advertisement, according to a source familiar with the talks. The person wished to remain anonymous to avoid jeopardizing the negotiations.

"We're in discussions for some future uses," Julie Roehm, director of marketing communications for Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep, confirmed.

Although she would not elaborate on the relationship, Roehm noted that it won't be in the style of Chrysler's coolly-received association with Celine Dion, which featured a lot of advertisements that focused more on the svelte diva than the company's vehicles.

Roehm said celebrity affiliations have to feel unobtrusive and natural. Looser associations with hip-hop stars such as Snoop Dogg and 50 Cent have helped propel the image of vehicles such as the Chrysler 300 and competitors like the Cadillac Escalade. Some other rappers are hyping the new Dodge Charger.

John Scott, general manager of Snethkamp Chrysler-Jeep in Redford, said it's great to have the company's new products featured in any new videos, regardless of who the artist is, to get the attention of younger buyers.

But Elliott is, arguably, the biggest hip-hop star to lend her name to a Chrysler product, and the Jeep brand wants to maximize the promotional opportunity -- especially the potential to tap into the growing minority market, which has been one of the few demographics bolstering SUV sales.

Although Elliott's work is filled with profanity and sex, she is mostly well regarded by critics and popular with consumers. She has won three Grammy Awards for performances of hits such as "Work It," "Itchin' " and "Get Ur Freak On."

Elliott also has produced and written a variety of hits for other artists, such as the revised "Lady Marmalade," which was performed by Christina Aguilera, Pink, Lil' Kim and Mya. Not so long ago, she also was featured in a Gap commercial with Madonna.

As it happens, Elliott also is a car aficionado.

Myles Kovacs, president and cofounder of Dub magazine, which will hold an auto-customizing show Aug. 7 in Detroit and the man who customized the Commander for Elliott's video, said Elliott has been featured on its cover before.

"Her car collection is better than a lot of guys'," he said. "Missy is one of the icons for female rappers in the world. She's a huge trend-setter and influencer in the marketplace."

So the video featuring the new Jeep Commander is getting a lot of exposure with a younger generation of consumers, to whom marketers nationwide are trying to sell virtually everything, from magazines to vehicles. And Elliott has the credibility to peddle it.

Jeep could use the extra attention.

Sales of large SUVs, which are highly profitable for their manufacturers, are suffering overall -- largely a consequence of higher gas prices. Sales of the largest SUVs were down 12.4% for the first six months of the year, compared with the same period a year ago, according to Autodata Corp. of Woodcliff Lake, N.J.

So the Commander, the first Jeep to have three rows of seats, will join that less-popular crowd of hulking vehicles. Boosting the Commander's image with younger buyers -- especially African Americans and Hispanics -- could prove critical to overcoming the obstacle faced by the largest SUVs.

The average age of a Jeep buyer is 44 years old, and about 38.5% of the buyers are women, according to the Power Information Network.

But the percentage of African American and Hispanic buyers of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, the largest Jeep currently on the market, is only 7.5% and 6.9% respectively, according to Art Spinella, president of CNW Marketing Research in Bandon, Ore. He said that the appeal of the vehicle to minorities may be more critical to improve because CNW research shows that minorities are bolstering sales of several key large SUVs.

African Americans and Hispanics made up just about 11% and 12%, respectively, of new vehicle buyers this year. But African Americans and Hispanics bought 21% and 14% of the Cadillac Escalades this year.

"Obviously, what they're trying to do is increase their overall African-American penetration," Spinella said of the latest Jeep marketing endeavor."

The full article can be found here:
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