Did Dodge make a marketing mistake? #journeysearch

I just completed Dodge’s grand marketing event the Dodge Journey Challenge (#journeychallenge on Twitter). It was a ton of fun following clues online to try and find a Dodge Journey in Oklahoma one week, then the next week driving to Albany, NY to start their east coast challenge.

Being the marketing guy I am, I was very excited to see Dodge put together an online/offline marketing expedition to help sell their Dodge Journey truck. While I had a great time searching the “world wide world” for the truck, I thought Dodge made a few marketing mistakes that will surely result in far fewer sales.


In the Oklahoma challenge, “explorers” were prompted to register their e-mail address to get a special “clue” toward helping to solve the truck’s location. What a fantastic idea! The lure of a special “clue” surely garnered Dodge several thousand e-mail addresses of active “Journey Explorers”. But then in the East Coast challenge this lure to trade your e-mail address for a special clue wasn’t there, which was a serious marketing mistake by all accounts.

To start without e-mail addresses or an “explorer registration” process, Dodge had no way of collecting information from the to measure the public reach of the contest. Without information, they also won’t have the ability to re-contact all the “explorers” once the search is over to tell them more about the Dodge Journey. Imagine spending thousands and thousands of dollars on a marketing campaign, capturing the attention of America – only to end without a database of names to continue the marketing. . .

Clearly Dodge is “hoping” the explorers go buy a truck. And you know what we say about that.


What is the typical buying process of a new car buyer? Is it need-based traditionally? Clearly car commercials believe that if they can get you excited about the car and get you “wanting” it, you’ll go out and buy it.  But before the car is bought, do people need to take a test drive? Like buying a home, do they also need to envision themselves in the car first?

Surely Dodge understands this process. In the Dodge Journey challenge over the course of 3 weeks, thousands of potential customers envisioned themselves in the Journey – winning it and driving home. Just like I did, around every bend I drove I wondered what it would be like to say my name and then “This is my new Journey” to the live YouTube audience.  Without email or contact information, how does Dodge plan to move people like me from “dreaming” to buying?

[stextbox id=”info”]As far as I can tell, they’re relying on hope. They’re hoping that you’ll remember to go out and buy the Journey. I’ll say it again “Hope is not a marketing plan”.[/stextbox]


What prompted this post in the first place was my visit to the Dodge dealership in Middlebury, Vermont during the Dodge Journey East Coast Challenge.  Entering at the service garage I asked if the guy knew where I might find the “Dodge Journey” event (maybe, just maybe he’d spill the beans). Not only did he not know where – he hadn’t ever heard of it.

On top of that the sales folks knew about it, but didn’t know it had started. Nor had they any signage out front alerting all their customers of the impending search. There was no sign that said “Welcome Searchers” or “Good Luck on the Dodge Journey Challenge”. There wasn’t even a computer in the lobby people could walk by and see. There was absolutely:

  • NO Leveraging Local Dealership Power – thus
  • NO Enticing their local customers to watch the clues – thus
  • NO local customers dreaming about winning the Journey – thus
  • NO adding local customers to the Dodge Journey e-mail database – thus
  • NO additional locally driven sales.

And speaking of local Dodge Dealerships, why not make an extra clue available to “explorers” who show up at a Dealership and check out a Dodge Journey? I was just terribly surprised by the lack of local dealership tie-ins. With all that effort – why not use local dealerships to help drive traffic back to the Dodge Challenge page on YouTube? Leveraging the local dealers would have meant a ton more traffic, interest, email addresses and ultimately sales for Dodge.


Dodge is certainly going to tear apart this marketing effort to determine its ultimate value. I have no idea what their success metrics are – but am pretty sure they’re not customer contact related. If they’re sales. . . how do they measure the buyers influenced by the game?

I hope they take advantage of people like myself and our lingering wish to be driving the winning Dodge Journey. Whether it’s a coupon code, print out page or phone number – I hope they take action they can track to determine the true sales bounce from this marketing event.

The Dodge Journey Explore event was super fun. Is that all it was?  I guess we’ll find out.


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