She cites current hot brands like Apple as a perfect example of putting Process to good use. “If you look at all the hoopla surrounding Apple—yes, they’re doing all the other 4 P’s with the iPod. But what they really have is the fifth P, which is iTunes. With iTunes, you get the emails on Tuesday, and then you’re downloading songs. So the killer app, so to speak, is the process that they have created to make the music easily accessible. That’s creating the competitive advantage.
“They have product, price, they have the promotions with those terrific commercials, and they have the distribution points. But they added in that fifth one… [And] I think that’s where we’re headed.”
At a time when studies like the one from JD Powers are consistently highlighting the crucial role the Internet plays in purchasing decisions, Stewart (who holds chair positions on the Association of National Advertisers Technology committee and has been a frequent speaker at Ad:Tech, iMedia and the Automotive CRM Roundtable) knows that companies like Chrysler can only be fully prepared to reap the full benefits of the interactive medium if all five of those P’s are in place. To that end, Chrysler increased online ad spending to $36.1 million in 2004, and continues to stand by its commitment to pushing forward in the interactive space.
“For the first time within the automotive industry, you have direct access to the consumer,” Stewart says. “You have direct access to consumer information. I think that’s why you see the automotive industry, particularly the Chrysler Group, just being very aggressive. We know that we have an opportunity to impact the purchase funnel. So we have to create the excitement about our vehicles, and sell them very persuasively online.”
And judging by recent ad campaigns like Dodge’s clever “Unleash Your Freak” spots—which used animated avatars and a desktop toolbar to point users to Charger ads all over the web—Bonita Coleman Stewart’s troop at Chrysler Interactive has proven they understand the basic principles of online advertising: enticing customer interaction while promoting products effectively.
Now that she’s been ahead of the curve, ventured into startup land, and returned once again to the fold, Stewart can’t help but radiate positive energy when discussing her current professional turf. “It’s nice to operate… in an environment where it’s a mass medium now. There’s just wide appeal.”
“I’ve always had this affinity for the convergence of technology and marketing,” Stewart concludes rather sunnily. “So I am just a happy camper right now.”