Chrysler: Seriously, Are They Or Aren't They?

January 15, 2009

Poor Chrysler: it's like that girl in high school who's kinda pretty but also one sandwich short of a picnic. She's the sort of girl other girls talk about--and this week, man, are they talking.

First, rumors surfaced that Chrysler is planning to divest itself of some brands--namely Jeep. CEO Bob Nardelli and co-president Tom LaSorda keep telling the world that it's all just gossip and that everything's fine. Unfortunately, Nardelli and LaSorda can be about as convincing as former Iraqi spokesman Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf, who famously insisted that "There are no American infidels in Baghdad. Never!" as the city was obviously being invaded. That's not to say that Nardelli and LaSorda aren't being truthful, just that we, the public, have grown a little more cynical and possibly savvy.

Now comes news from Madison Avenue that Chrysler has dumped ad firm Cutwater and inked a new contract for Jeep with BBDO--the firm that used to handle Jeep until Chrysler left them last year. (I'm guessing Cutwater is taking some of the blame for Chrysler's 2008 sales slump, which was about 30% below 2007, compared to the -18% average for other manufacturers.) While the new advertising contract doesn't necessarily imply anything about Jeep's future, it does say that Chrysler is still actively involved in the brand. Jeep may indeed get sold, but it probably won't happen in the immediate future.

So now it's prediction time: what's your take? Is Chrysler going to come through this intact? Or will it get a little lighter in the process? Play Nostradamus all you like in the comments section below...

--Richard Read

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