If youve been reading the blog here at Red Letter Dodge, we truly hope that you have enjoyed the stories and pictures we captured on the HEMI Highway Tour. While it was just 40 days of activity, you may never have guessed that Heather and I had been building this adventure for nearly one full year.
In November 2009, I met Mark Mallie (then Challenger/Charger Brand Manager) and Eric Andrew for lunch. We deeply discussed steps forward in engaging Dodge customers on a more intimate level. By the end of that meeting, I was sent on a mission. That mission was to find out what YOU wanted from Dodge.
So, in December 2009, Heather and I hunkered down in our office and hit up the forums and blogs for your input. The response we received was staggering. In just two short weeks, hundreds upon hundreds of replies poured in and gave us some real direction as how to better approach Dodges most loyal fan base.
Heather and I read and listened to every word of each blog response, Facebook post, phone call, and/or email we received. Then, once the flow of intel had lessened, we came up for air and condensed that feedback onto a 4x8 dry erase board. We could not get another letter on the board.
And after all that analysis, we were left with one glaring request from you: We want recognition from Dodge and the chance to see new products first! It was resounding. And it would eventually serve as the basis for the HEMI Highway Tour.
Looking back at all the responses you sent, one enthusiast, in particular, blew us away.
A young man by the name of Lance Green (pictured below) contacted us on behalf of Amarillo Area Mopars (www.amarilloareamopars.com). Lance, founder of the club, is just 25 years old (reminiscent of Pedro Murillo from DFWLX). He actually started AAM when he was just 22. Nonetheless, Lance poured his heart and soul into a 3-page email that resonated so strongly with us that it was burned into our memory.
Lance made it clear: Dodge should come directly to the fans. But dont forget the small clubs out here. Everyone should count!
Highlights of his email included the following comments (summarized for brevity).
I love Mopar. The people who drive Mopars love them. I am just the nut job who will take the time to organize the group. […] I have had some amazing experiences, met tons of new people, made some great friends, and have been able to see Chryslers at a rate I never expected. What a lucky guy I am!
With each new member we acquire, they bring something new to the table. […] Out of the same passion and enthusiasm that drove me to start the club, countless others have come in with the same drive. They get the word out, post flyers, tell friends, and recruit new members. Why do we do all this? Simple. We all love our Mopars!
So where do you (Dodge) come in? What can you all do to get a connection with grassroots people like us? What would we like best? […] I will tell you this is the consensus. Come to our events!
Do you know what it would mean to folks in the club if we had an official rep from Dodge or Mopar show up with a Challenger or Viper and letting folks get their pictures taken? This is where memories come from.
I know Dodge and Mopar probably have displays in Vegas at SEMA and at the Mopar Nats, etc. But what about the other 98% of us enthusiasts? We get nothing.
Come to us! We will eat it up!
It is incredibly easy for yall to make this happen. Sure, you have the expense of trailering across the country and hotel rooms, etc. But really? Isnt that a big savings over just another mundane advertising campaign?
I hope you get the point I am trying to make. This is an easy thing to do that we would all love because of the special attention. Make it a point to go to Mopar shows in the town off the beaten path. Check out the cars they have.
In addition to this meaning a lot to the grassroots guys like those of us in Amarillo Area Mopars, I think yall would have a lot of fun in the process.
As you can tell, Lance had a few things on his mind. And we took it to heart.
Fast forward to the whole HEMI Highway Tour planning process and we made Amarillo a must-stop on our route. Dedicated and outspoken Mopar soldiers just like Lance were exactly who we were targeting on this tour. We didnt just want to hit the big clubs and big cities. This was about every enthusiast at every level with the same burning desire for Chryslers rich history of amazing cars.
On December 11, 2010 we visited Amarillo Area Mopars at Texas Dodge and let them crawl all over the Challenger and Charger. During our stay, we drove home the fact that it was Lances emails and love for his club that swayed us in their direction. We could have catered to larger clubs and visited more populous cities. Yet the kind of Mopar love we felt here was as deep and genuine as any place we visited on the entire tour.
Dodge did indeed go Green. Lance Green. Everyone should look to this group as a prime example of those fans who continue to breathe life into the Chrysler Corporation. Without outstanding folks like Lance and his crew, we would not be where we stand today. It is humbling.
Lance, we salute you, sir! We are proud to say we met you. Thanks for being you!
And then, to top it all off, Lance led us down to the landmark known as The Cadillac Ranch.
Discontent with the way things were looking, Heather and I decided to redecorate. Feast your eyes on our revisions. A GM product never looked so damn good.