Chrysler to launch ad campaign to reassure nervous buyers

Chrysler is preparing to launch a marketing campaign to reassure customers and potential buyers that the auto maker is still alive and expects to bounce back from its bankruptcy filing. The Chrysler will back its ads with a new slew of incentives starting Tuesday.

Print and TV ads are also expected to break early this week using the tagline, "We're building a better car company ... come see what we're building for you", according to dealers.

Chrysler sales and marketing chief Steve Landry acknowledged the company has a campaign geared to address concerns consumers might have about buying cars from a company in bankruptcy. ''We want to establish a level of trust and confidence that customers can still buy cars and trucks from us, and it is business as usual," Landry told The New York Times. "We are working to exit bankruptcy as fast as we can."

On Friday, Chrysler reported its vehicles sales declined 48 per cent in April to 76,682 cars and light trucks, a steeper decline than all other major auto makers. Overall new vehicles fell 34 per cent in April.

As Chrysler dealers across America try to sell vehicles with the auto manufacturer in bankruptcy, they're meeting different types of customers: loyalists who aren't fazed by the troubles, those simply seeking the best deal in a bad economy, and some who are willing to look, but aren't sold on the company's prospects.

As an example, the New York Times quoted a 60-year-old certified public accountant Bill Zinck who asked the dealership whether it could accommodate his warranty for his five-year-old Jeep Liberty when he brought it in for a maintenance checkup Friday. When he was assured it could, he settled into a chair with a paperback. "Everything seemed to be business as usual," Zink said of the company's service-and-repair department.

The US government is backing all warranties on Chrysler vehicles. Some customers who spoke to the Associated Press in recent days said they were encouraged by this announcement.

It's hard to say, yet, if the bankruptcy will slow Chrysler's sales even more, or if bargain-hungry drivers will see the company's straits as an opportunity. Some dealers are reported to have said that they saw better-than-average traffic over the weekend, while others said it was slow, though some dealers say they were uncertain about the future.