Fiat Chrysler, ‘Star Wars’ launch co-branded ads

Michael Wayland
The Detroit News

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV is taking its brands to “a galaxy far, far away.”

The automaker is launching a new ad campaign with Walt Disney Co. and Lucasfilm on Thursday for the upcoming release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” the latest in the sci-fi franchise.

Thirty-second co-branded television spots for the movie and the automaker’s vehicles will run in North America, Argentina and Brazil. Additional spots will be rolled out in countries throughout the Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Each ad includes creative elements from the movie — images, music, sound design and voiceovers — interspersed with footage of Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram or Fiat vehicles specific to those sold in countries airing the spots.

Splicing movie elements with Fiat Chrysler’s brands is similar to recent partnerships the company has made with films in other movie franchises, including “Furious 7” and “Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2.”

Partnering with trending movies is a part of Fiat Chrysler Chief Marketing Officer Olivier Francois’ philosophy of staying relevant. “Cinema is a perfect way to shape a brand, make it look a little bit different than another,” he told The Detroit News in a recent interview. “And more importantly, to be relevant.”

“Hunger Games” did not feature a vehicle from the automaker, and “Star Wars” fans shouldn’t expect Han Solo and Chewbacca to drive a Dodge Challenger, either.

“I wish that the ‘Star Wars’ characters were driving our cars, but they obviously don’t,” Francois said. “No problem. It is still going to be the most culturally relevant thing in the world in December.”

The U.S. spots promote the brand’s year-end sales events as “The Must See Event of the Year,” and close with “See Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which hits theaters Dec. 18.

The campaign will reach a wide demographic of consumers. Top NFL and college football games are among the programming on which commercials will air. Radio spots and social media extensions will accompany the television campaign.

In addition to the media blitz, Fiat Chrysler created Stormtrooper-inspired Dodge Chargers for a special partnership with Uber Technologies and Hot Wheels in New York. It also displayed a custom-painted Fiat 500e Stormtrooper at the Los Angeles Auto Show last month.

Lucasfilm announced in August that it was collaborating with the automaker’s North American-based operations and six other global brands to promote “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

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