Dodge aims to promote auto bodies with lingerie

Associated Press

DETROIT -DaimlerChrysler AG’s sponsorship of a Super Bowl halftime football game between lingerie-clad women could draw criticism, say experts.

But the Lingerie Bowl is a marketing risk the automaker, which has become known for its sexually-suggestive ads, says it’s willing to take.

For 20 minutes during the Super Bowl on Feb. 1, 14 models dressed in lingerie will participate in a tackle football game. The program will be broadcast live on a pay-per-view channel for an estimated $20 to $30 viewing fee.

James Kenyon, a spokesman for the Auburn Hills-based Chrysler Group, said “it’s another way for us to break through the advertising clutter” during the Super Bowl.

The company will use the Lingerie Bowl to pitch Dodge cars and trucks bought primarily by men, Kenyon told the Detroit Free Press for a Thursday story.

But some experts say viewers may get the wrong message.

“This is horrendous,” said John Antil, professor of marketing at the University of Delaware.

“It is blatantly chauvinistic. You have the potential of offending a significant amount of people and what is the message? I am going to think the car is sexy or it makes me look more macho. It’s a boneheaded move.”

But Kenyon says Dodge isn’t trying to please everyone. The brand tends to attract male buyers, so risque programming is appropriate, he said.

This isn’t the first time the Chrysler Group has pushed the boundaries of good taste with its advertising.

In the past couple years, the company – a division of DaimlerChrysler AG – has launched a series of controversial ads that have raised eyebrows among consumers.

One commercial referred to the Chrysler Concorde’s “really big back seat,” implying that it was the possible place where a child was conceived. And, a Chrysler Town and Country ad featured a man asking a neighbor if he wanted to swap – not clarifying whether he meant their minivans or their wives.

Other marketing experts say they aren’t totally surprised by Dodge’s approach.

Andrew Bergstein, a marketing instructor at Penn State University, said the game will catch people’s attention and not stir public outrage since many viewers are already accustomed to such programming.

He said any criticism will just prompt more people to watch it because the game becomes politically incorrect.

“If you show 10 women objecting to it on the news, you will have 50 guys who will want to see it,” Bergstein said.

“Super Bowl watching is a collective event. You have a huge portion of people who watch it with other people. If they effectively promote it in advance, you may get enough people to say, `let’s take a look at this.'”