This weekend, Dodge bombarded America's football viewers with commercials advertising clues to find one of three free Dodge Journey crossovers hidden across the country. Unfortunately for one New Yorker, the last clue was his phone number. But he had nothing to do with the contest. Dodge Marketing FAIL. UPDATE!
Anyone watching a football game this weekend probably saw the "Search Engine for the Real World" contest advertisements multiple times, each promising a free version of their milquetoast also-ran crossover SUV to anyone willing to follow some obvious tips and track down something without the aid of Google.
As New York-based Editor Brandon (not his real name) was soon to find out, one of the three Journeys was, according to the clues, located in the New York area.
Around noon yesterday, Brandon's phone started ringing with unfamiliar numbers. He started to ignore them but, as the frequency increased, he decided to check and see if it was an out-of-town friend he was supposed to meet.
"I answered and it was some fucking dude, he was like 'something, something Dodge Journey," Brandon said. Assuming it was a wrong number, he explained he wasn't selling a car and then hung up the phone.
When told about the weird phone call, a friend Brandon was with made a prescient joke.
"What if it was like a free car and your phone started blowing up?" his friend asked and then, as if on cue, his phone started doing just that. Hundreds of calls started pouring in, one after another.
Brandon, who doesn't have a car, was unaware of the contest and didn't realize Dodge had just Tweeted out a pic of the car with the phone number "420-8706" in front of a screen imploring people to call the number.
It's only a seven-digit phone number, but Brandon has the additional misfortune of having a "212" version of the number, which is the most popular area code in New York (probably in the world, behind 555). It's like a replay of the 867-5309 fiasco, but for no purpose other than to sell crappy crossovers.
The contest has been fraught with problems including one of the three Journeys now not being given away after rumors of how the potential winner found the vehicle.
Eventually, Brandon's phone died and because of the extra call volume he was unable to get in touch with the friend he was going out to meet.
Brandon doesn't want a free Dodge Journey, or any other giveaway, he just wants Chrysler to rethink their "ridiculous" campaign and understand their short-sightedness has an effect on real people.
"It's just a giant inconvenience," he said. "It's my weekend, these are the things that are important in life, people, human interaction, not giant corporations causing people to scramble for their products."
He tried calling Dodge's customer service line twice but hasn't had a response from the company yet, although one operator described people with other area codes reporting the same issue.
UPDATE:A spokesperson for Chrysler tells Jalopnik that contestants paying attention to the contest's clues, such as these Facebook pictures, would have already seen the vehicle was in Maine and called the correct number (it received over 15,000 calls). The spokesperson did admit that, without seeing all the clues, it could have been confusing and aplogized for the confusion saying "We're very sorry it happened to this gentleman and it ruined his weekend."