In promoting the launch of its first-ever SUV, the Chrysler Aspen, the Chrysler Group wanted to create a news hook linking the Aspen to a current pop culture trend.
With the help of ClearBlue Communications, it devised a contest that capitalized on the sudoku puzzle trend, calling it the "Snowdoku Challenge." Held in New York, the contest pitted teams against one another to solve a super-sized sudoku puzzle made out of 36,000 pounds of snow and ice.
The goal was to build awareness of the Aspen using media relations, while also providing a visual that would build consumer awareness on the streets of New York and get people to interact with the Aspen. "We worked... to make sure the vehicle was integrated into the program so it wasn't just a display vehicle on the side," says Andrea Wood, ClearBlue chief client officer. The winner would receive a trip to Aspen, CO, and access to the SUV during their stay.
The team tapped New York Times crossword puzzle editor Will Shortz as spokesman. PR focused on announcing the contest and getting people to sign up, promoting the visual of the event, and media relations around the winner. "Clearly, the... actual challenge [was] where we generated a significant amount of media awareness, as well as consumer foot traffic," says Carrie McElwee, Chrysler's senior marketing and PR manager. During the event, the Aspen served as a bench for the teams, where they plotted their strategies. "It was a cold day, so it helped us play up features like the heated seats," says Wood.
The effort generated 22.1 million media impressions, including coverage in 70 different TV markets outside of New York. National hits included ESPN2, The Weather Channel, and Telemundo. Chrysler Aspen sales in February rose 2.5% over January.
Chrysler and ClearBlue continue to work together.
PR team: Chrysler Group (Detroit) and ClearBlue Communications (Chicago)
Campaign: Chrysler Aspen Snowdoku Challenge
Duration: December 2006 to February 2007