I don’t know if you noticed this during the World Cup, but DaimlerChrysler began running its new ad campaign, starring CEO Dieter Zetsche, aka Dr. Z. If you polled most Americans, I doubt many could tell you who he is (“Is he the surgeon general? Comedian David Cross wearing an oversized fake mustache? Wait, wasn’t he in the barbershop quartet in The Music Man?” ). While Dr. Zetsche has been busy remaking the troubled automaker, he’s kept a low profile. Now he’s following Lee Iacocca in becoming the public face of the company.
In one ad, Zetsche takes a reporter on a joy ride of sorts to demonstrate the latest vehicles, zigzagging like a stunt driver. In another, Dr. Z makes house calls to answer consumer questions, at one point showing off his soccer chops. They worked: I didn’t fast-forward the Tivo. Maybe it’s because I’d love to conduct all my interviews that way, traveling at high speeds. Or maybe it’s because Dr. Z is, well, pretty good. He has a mischievous look about him (I’m telling you, it’s the ‘stache) that suggests he has some tricks up his sleeve. Or maybe it’s the German accent. In recent years, it was easy to forget that Chrysler is German-owned. Not anymore.
You can view the ads at askdr.com, hosted by a cartoon version of Dr. Z. The action figure can’t be far behind.