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Olivier Francois: The Man Behind Chrysler's Controversial Ads

January 6, 2010

Over the past few months, we've seen some curious ads for Chrysler. There was the "My Name Is Ram" clip, which was endlessly parodied on YouTube. Then there was that spot for the Chrysler 300, starring Mikhail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela, and a plea for Aung San Suu Kyi's freedom. And this Monday, we discussed the company's "Coming Home" ad, complete with staged archival footage of Chrysler vehicles. The man behind these and other spots is Olivier Francois, who heads up marketing for Fiat, Lancia, and now Chrysler brands. Some on the TCC staff can appreciate the intent of these re-branding efforts, but other folks -- including many dealers -- are wondering why the company hasn't done more (or any) product-oriented advertising. (The answer could be the products, or maybe just the lack of new ones.)

Ultimately, Francois is hoping for something bigger than just selling a certain volume of cars and trucks: he's hoping to sell America and the rest of the world on the Chrysler family of products. It's no secret that the Chrysler brand has taken some hits in recent years, and things haven't been helped by last year's bankruptcy/bailout, so the company's brands definitely need some buffing. Whether Francois can accomplish that at the expense of product ads remains to be seen, though we're obligated to mention that the approach isn't working so well in Chrysler showrooms (sales were down 35.9% in 2009), and it didn't pan out well for the Honda Insight, either.

If you're curious about the man and his marketing mission, click through to read his interesting interview with Detroit News. Or feel free to debate the three ads we've mentioned here, all of which are reposted below. Your call.

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