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Fiat Chrysler, Derek Zoolander partner for comedic ad

Michael Wayland
The Detroit News

Sexy, fun and fashionable – three words that the Fiat brand has used to describe itself since re-entering the United States in 2011.

And the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV brand may have found a perfect spokesman: Derek Zoolander. The fictional international supermodel sensation was played by Ben Stiller in the 2001 film comedy “Zoolander,” and a sequel premieres in theaters nationwide next month.

“The Fiat way to be fun is being playful and a little bit irreverent,” Fiat Chrysler Chief Marketing Officer Olivier Francois told The Detroit News. “When you think of Zoolander — the movie and character — and you ask yourself: Do these words apply to Zoolander: Distinctive, sexy, trendy, fun, playful? The answer is ‘yes.’ This is where the alignment happens.”

“Zoolander 2” is the latest in the company’s dual-branded ad campaigns, which have included the newest movies from the “Fast and Furious,” “Hunger Games” and “Star Wars” franchises.

The Fiat “Zoolander” ad premiered Sunday during the 73rd annual Golden Globe Awards on NBC. It will continue to air through the movie’s nationwide release on Feb. 12. The 500X crossover also will be a part of the movie, whose cast includes Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell and Penelope Cruz.

“Just as Derek Zoolander turns heads on international runways, the Fiat 500X stands out on the roads around the world with its combination of Italian style, advanced all-wheel-drive system, functionality and an array of comfort, convenience, and safety and security features,” Tim Kuniskis, head of passenger car brands for Fiat Chrysler–North America, said in a statement.

The new spot, in 30- and 60-second versions, features the dimwitted Zoolander driving on a city street in a Fiat 500X, when a traffic camera takes his picture for running a red light.

“I know. I was driving while hot,” Zoolander tells a police officer.

Partnering with trending movies is part of Francois’ philosophy of staying relevant: “It’s always extremely rewarding for a brand to align with a pop culture moment because it buys you relevance that you probably do not always have with a traditional commercial approach,” said Francois, adding part of the film was shot in Italy, Fiat’s birthplace and where the 500X is produced.

The new movie partnership marks the second Fiat Chrysler and Paramount Pictures have teamed up to utilize talent, in character, to create original content. The first was its Dodge brand with “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” and pitchman “Ron Burgundy,” played by Will Ferrell.

Francois, who also is global head of the Fiat brand, said the “Star Wars” partnership was “really successful” and hopes the same for the newest campaign with “Zoolander 2.”

“It should help establish the 500X, which is the most-important nameplate for the Fiat brand,” he said.

mwayland@detroitnews.com

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