And by golly it worked. Like really worked.
Honestly, it wasn’t that hard. After all, we’re talking about the Dodge Challenger and Charger SRT Hellcats here. Around this time a year ago, Dodge first teased the Hellcat engine specs to investors. The Challenger Hellcat was publicly revealed two weeks later. And then Dodge said no more. According to a new report from Automotive News, that was all part of a brilliant viral marketing plan that succeeded beyond expectations. It basically worked like this:
Dodge made the initial investor announcement and public reveal, and then it allowed everyone to speculate. All Dodge said about the then new supercharged V8 was that it had over 600 hp. But surely it couldn’t be more than the Viper’s 645 hp, everyone wondered. Again, Dodge remained silent. Viral marketing on the web did the rest. "I consider what we’ve done very efficient marketing," stated Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis. “The goal is not to sell Hellcats. That’s why people say, 'Why are you still talking about it if I can’t even order one right now?' The real benefit is the halo effect it provides for the rest of the cars."
Dodge allowed the online debate to continue for a couple of months before dropping a bombshell on July 1: 707 hp. A week and a half later the Challenger Hellcat clocked a time of 11.2 seconds on the quarter mile with production tires, nearly beating the 2015 Corvette Z06 with the Z07 package (10.95 seconds). Dodge waited another two weeks to reveal pricing. Many assumed it’d cost at least $100k. Nope. $60,990. The Hellcat then went to the Woodward Dream Cruise in Detroit and a few other live events, strengthening its halo effect even further. "Did we fuel the fire? Of course we did," Kuniskis added. "How big would the flame have been without it? I don’t know. That’s impossible for me to say. Right now, it’s a big flame."