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from a report in the Detroit News:

Carmaker hopes to stand out in aiming new small SUV at young, sports-loving guys.


Dodge wants to put men into small SUVs -- and its executives think they have a plan to sell them the 2007 Nitro.

The Nitro is aimed at age 30-something male consumers, who play and watch sports, visit places such as MySpace.com and want to personalize their space -- creating what Dodge calls a "man den."

To target those men, the DaimlerChrysler AG Chrysler Group brand will launch a marketing campaign Sunday that includes television spots, online ads and print ads in magazines such as Men's Health and Maxim.

"The key emotional insight here is that men crave adrenaline," said Mark Spencer, senior manager for Dodge marketing and global communications.

The Nitro is vying in a segment where Dodge, the fifth-largest brand in the U.S., has been absent and where buyers are older and skew female, said Tom Loveless, Dodge director of marketing and global communications.

The campaign capitalizes on the Nitro's brawny design.

In one television spot called "Planet," the vehicle falls from a crane as it's being off-loaded. It crashes through the pavement into the earth's sub-terrain, tumbles past hell, before eventually reaching China without a scratch or ding. That television spot will also air in some movie theaters beginning next month.

But are the messages of machismo loud enough?

Maybe, analysts say, but as with any new vehicle entering a segment brimming with options such as the Nissan Xterra SUV, standing out won't be easy.

"There are so many choices in the SUV segment and SUV crossover segments that we're pretty close to getting sensory overload," said George Peterson, an analyst with AutoPacific, an automotive marketing and product consulting firm.

"But the Nitro probably has the unique personality that it can distance itself from the pack," he said.

Tom Libby of Power Information Network, a J.D. Power and Associates affiliate, said the Nitro could resonate with male buyers. The vehicle is expected to compete in the compact crossover segment where car-based and more fuel-efficient vehicles may score more points with consumers.

Global Insight Inc., an automotive analyst company, is forecasting Nitro sales to account for 70,000 units annually.

Although the Nitro's marketing strategy may be perceived as overly mannish, Dodge executives aren't worried that the campaign will shun women buyers.

"We don't, by any means, think we've gone too far," said Loveless. "We do want to let men know that there's a choice out there for them as well."
 
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