In the age of social media and hyper-connectedness, what’s one of the best ways to launch a successful marketing campaign? Let the customers do the talking for you. That’s what Dodge did with the 2015 Hellcat Challenger and Charger, and is now reaping the rewards associated with such high-profile visibility.

Automotive News recently released a report on the Hellcat marketing strategy, highlighting why you simply can’t get away from coverage of the underworld feline. The first step was to let folks wonder what lurked in waiting, giving very few specifics, thus fueling rampant rumor-spreading.

When the Challenger SRT Hellcat officially broke cover last year, Dodge simply said the car would produce over 600 horsepower, inducing heavy speculation as to whether it would out-gun the 645-horsepower Viper. After weeks of conjecture, Dodge said the car would boast some 707 horses, leading to an explosion of web attention. 

Next, folks wondered if all that muscle meant to vehicle was too heavy to be fast. Dodge responded with a video of the Hellcat at the drag strip with car show host Richard Rawlings, revealing on July 11th that the car would post an 11.2-second quarter mile with production tires and a 10.8 with drag radials. 

Cue Internet tongue wagging. 

So the Hellcat was officially powerful and fast. The issue of its asking price was then the topic of debate, a figure ($60,000) that Dodge finally put to bed two weeks after divulging the performance specs.

With the big numbers out in the open, the automaker decided to fan the already sizable flames by dropping cover on the Hellcat Charger in August, followed by vehicle appearances and free ride-alongs at events throughout the country, including the Woodward Dream Cruise near Detroit and the Dodge Rocks Gas Monkey car show and concert.

I guess it worked.

Continue reading for the full story.

Why it matters

"Social media, viral marketing, events where I intersect with you in your normal, everyday life, that’s going to get to you no matter what," said Tim Kuniskis, Dodge brand CEO. "You’re not looking for a car today, but you may be in the future. That’s where I see a huge benefit. Intersecting with your normal life and getting on your radar."

If I made the Challenger and Charger Hellcat, I’d wanna show them off too.

So far, it seems like the strategy is working for the Hellcats, with the Challenger seeing its best month of sales in April (6,771 sold, a 32 percent increase over 2014), and the Charger seeing its best April in seven years (9,063 sold). 

If done correctly, this strategy is effective in providing benefits for not only the vehicle featured, but all the cars in a given catalog. It’s called the “halo effect,” and Kuniskis is well aware of its results: "The goal is not to sell Hellcats. That’s why people say, ’Why are you still talking about it if I can’t even order one right now?’ The real benefit is the halo effect it provides for the rest of the cars." 

One indicator of this is via social media. For example, Dodge’s marketing efforts on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have gained over a million followers since the Hellcats first went on sale. 

What’s more, with so much public attention, the press comes naturally. Jay Leno’s Garage featured the Challenger Hellcat, while Pennzoil used one (painted in yellow) for a short film entitled “Airlift Drift.” It’s all free publicity, with views totaling in the millions.

Even so, expect more advertisements this summer, as Fiat-Chrysler’s global chief marketing officer Olivier Francois confirmed a new campaign to drop in the coming months: "We created [the campaign] because we couldn’t help it. Will we use it? Economically, it sounds like it makes no sense," Francois said. "Marketing wise, it does because you still see a Challenger and a Charger."

Makes sense to me. If I made the Challenger and Charger Hellcat, I’d wanna show them off too. 

2015 Dodge Challenger Hellcat

2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat High Resolution Exterior
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With a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 that emits the sound of hades out the back of a poorly-muffled dual 2.75-inch exhaust, the Challenger Hellcat is quite simply the most powerful factory-built muscle car ever created. A sprint to 60 takes under four seconds, and a pair of drag tires is all you’ll need to best a new Z06 in the 1,320. Transmission options include either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic, while the 4,439 pounds of curb weight are managed by a sport-tuned suspension, 20-inch wheels, and oversized Brembo brakes.

Read our full review here.

2015 Dodge Charger Hellcat

2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat High Resolution Exterior
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Finally shucking the old rental-beater demeanor, the Charger Hellcat comes with the same 707-horsepower supercharged Hemi found powering the Challenger, but adds a pair of doors to create one of the fastest sedans in the world. Despite being slightly heavier than it’s two-door counterpart (4,592 pounds, 153 more than the Challenger), all that muscle still translates into simply insane velocity, with the quarter mile done in 11 seconds flat and a top speed over 200 mph. Pricing starts at $63,995, making this four-door an incredibly good value in addition to being stupendously fast.

Read our full review here.

Source: Automotive News

Jonathan Lopez
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