FCA launches coronavirus response campaign, 0% for 84 months

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Fiat Chrysler launched a media campaign aimed at plugging its new online buying tools and financial incentives — including 0 percent with 84 months’ financing — designed to keep purchases coming during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The campaign is called “Drive Forward” and is backed by a song recorded last week by pop group OneRepublic while under quarantine.

The campaign will get media support on TV and digital. Starting Wednesday the automaker will run the campaign in place of individual spots promoting its brands, which include Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge and Ram.

The decision to stop regular advertising follows similar moves by other automakers that are coming to grips with the reality that typical ads plugging new vehicle launches or run-of-the-mill sales events won’t cut it during the pandemic. Most ot the new ads tout financial relief programs like payment deferrals as automakers try to keep buyers interested when most people are focused on more immediate needs, like stocking up on groceries.

But despite the new perks, automakers will be hard pressed to overcome what is likely to be a persistent, major slowdown in buying activity. 

“There are basically no U.S. auto sales right now,” Adam Jonas, an analyst with Morgan Stanley, stated in a March 27 report. “Investors have fully embraced the reality that the U.S. auto industry may be shut down for one or two full months. We’re now being asked to run scenarios of six-month or nine-month shutdowns.”

On Wednesday, Fiat Chrysler reported that first-quarter sales fell 10 percent, “as the strong momentum in January and February was more than offset by the negative economic impact of the coronavirus in March.”  

Shopping from home

The automaker’s TV ad, created by Michigan-based ad agency Doner, plugs zero-percent interest loans for 84 months and “the ability to shop and buy from the safety of your home.” The program allows buyers to complete the entire vehicle purchase process online.

“Not only can consumers purchase a vehicle off a dealer lot, they can conduct a vehicle trade-in, apply for credit, receive price and payment estimation, and review service protection plan options,” Fiat Chrysler said in a statement. Vehicle delivery services are handled by individual dealers, which have expanded the offerings in the wake of the pandemic.

OneRepublic recorded “Better Days” while putting the finishing touches on the band’s fifth album, according to Variety.

In a statement about the “Better Days” campaign, Fiat Chrysler CMO Olivier François said: “We want to both offer consumers support and assist them financially while we all work hand-in-hand toward better days. And we’ll continue to explore additional opportunities as a company to help as we all navigate our way through this difficult time together.”

Other automakers are debuting similar at-home services. Volvo, for instance, is plugging “Volvo Valet,” which allows customers to use an app to schedule pick up and delivery of vehicles that need service. Automotive News on Tuesday reported the program will be expanded later this year to include lease and purchase deliveries, lease returns, and overnight test drives later this year.

Fiat Chrysler’s campaign comes a day after Honda released an ad from RPA plugging 90-day payment deferrals on new vehicle sales as well as a $500 discount for first responders and healthcare professionals. 

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