Ford, Chrysler up outreach over GM discount program

DETROIT: Ford and the Chrysler Group of DaimlerChrysler have launched multipronged efforts that include advertising, media relations, and dealer outreach to combat sales gains General Motors has achieved thanks to a new discount program.

DETROIT: Ford and the Chrysler Group of DaimlerChrysler have launched multipronged efforts that include advertising, media relations, and dealer outreach to combat sales gains General Motors has achieved thanks to a new discount program.

GM's "Employee Discount for Everyone" program sent its US market share to 30.3% in the first 12 days of this month, a seven point increase from June 2004 and the first time GM has gotten more than 30% since September, according to a study by Power Information Network, a research firm.

The program lets regular consumers get the same discount as GM employees.

In response, Ford has been running print and TV ads called "The Truth," claiming that Ford rebates make its cars cheaper than comparable GM models.

It's followed the ads by e-mailing materials outlining the comparisons to dealers, who are encouraged to show them to consumers.

A letter to dealers from the president of the Ford division discussing discounts went out the second week of this month.

"We're clarifying for consumers what rebates are out there," said David Reuter, public affairs manager for the Ford brand. "It's an attempt to make sure consumers know Ford is offering more dollars by line than General Motors is."

Meanwhile, Chrysler is running ads called "Straight Math, Great Product."

It previewed the ads, which are appearing on TV, in print, and online, for 140 reporters who attended its annual model preview event June 16 to get media and consumer attention for the campaign.

"We think we have better products and better deals," said Jason Vines, VP, Chrysler Group communications.

The GM program is scheduled to end July 5, but industry speculation suggests that GM may extend it through all of July.

Reuter said Ford will continue countermessaging about its prices if GM continues. "The only real contingency plan that we have is to continue communicating," he said.

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