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Nickelodeon Signs Chrysler as Big Sponsor

Chrysler is going all out trying to pitch its redesigned minivans, particularly the new Town & Country. Today, the company unveiled an advertising and promotional partnership deal with kid-friendly cable network Nickelodeon. In many ways, Chrysler is drawing a line in the sandbox for what is essentially the last great American minivan. Chrysler’s minivans remain the most popular with minivan drivers, but Honda’s Odyssey and Toyota’s Sienna are creeping closer. The foreign competition has essentially forced Ford and GM out of the minivan game, turning the domestics’ attention toward crossovers: SUVs with minivan-like interiors.

It makes a lot of sense for Chrysler to target Nickelodeon; my kids have watched that channel for many years, and frequently (especially when they were younger) would ask me for products they’d seen advertised between “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “Jimmy Neutron.” Chrysler is probably hoping that when it pitches Nickelodeon playing on satellite TV in the Town & Country, not to mention the new “Swivel & Go” seats, kids will beg their parents to go out for a test drive.

Using Jimmy Neutron as one of the “pitchmen” for Chrysler is an interesting concept. That character uses his brain — and his inventions —  to outwit both his enemies and his parents. Perhaps Chrysler hopes to get some positive ruboff and be seen by the younger set as a “smart” choice for parents.

Personally, my wife and I are perhaps the last two parents who hate the idea of putting even a DVD player in our minivan; we’d prefer that our kids read or sing songs together or play some word games rather than zone out to an in-car TV. Still, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that millions of parents have opted to take exactly the opposite approach; they appreciate the break that having a DVD player or a TV in the car can provide. Of course, one of the big advantages with satellite TV in the Town & Country is that it lets parents go on trips without lugging those DVDs with them.

Chrysler is probably also wise to support Nickelodeon on multiple platforms, since many of the young kids and tweeners I know use Nickelodeon’s websites, and their parents find it to be a safe, fun-oriented place.

Will all of those tykes turn into Chrysler pitchmen and women? That remains to be seen.

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