Fiat's Newest Ad Star Is Derek Zoolander
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is putting another movie star in the driver's seat: Ben Stiller stars in a new ad for the 2016 Fiat 500X subcompact crossover as the helplessly vain and dimwitted model Derek Zoolander.
The spot -- which debuted during Sunday night's "Golden Globe Awards" broadcast on NBC -- comes roughly one month before the release of "Zoolander No. 2," which stars Mr. Stiller, Owen Wilson and Will Ferrell. In the ad (above), Mr. Zoolander stops to pose multiple times for a red light camera. "I know. I was driving while hot," he tells a police officer.
The ad is the result of a collaboration between FCA and Paramount Pictures and is the latest Hollywood deal struck by FCA-Global Chief Marketing Officer Olivier Francois. Mr. Francois, who has a penchant for big entertainment partnerships, recently struck similar ad deals with the "Star Wars" and "Hunger Games" movie franchises.
The Zoolander deal seems like a more natural partnership, though. Unlike "Star Wars" and "Hunger Games," there are actually cars in the Zoolander movie. The Paramount deal includes Fiat product placement in the flick, although exact details were not available at press time. Also working in the favor of the Italian car brand is the fact that the movie is set in Italy, Mr. Francois noted.
"The car is part of the movie, the brand is part of the movie. So the more the movie will be seen, the better it is for the car and for the brand," Mr. Francois said in an interview. "Derek Zoolander is super distinctive, sexy and trendy and fun. And that's exactly the way I would describe Fiat."
He said Mr. Stiller took an active role in the creation of the ad, which was directed by Jeff Mann, the executive producer of "Zoolander No. 2." The agency that worked on the spot is Testa and Partners, a Los Angeles-based advertising agency formed as a joint venture between Armando Testa of Italy and L.A.-based Trailer Park, which is an entertainment and content-marketing agency.
The ad running in the "Golden Globes" is 60 seconds. Fiat will put a 30-second version in regular rotation. Mr. Francois described the ad as a "mini-movie" rather than a traditional ad. Trailer Park's involvement was critical because the agency has experience making movie trailers, he said.
"Our video is almost one more scene of the movie, so you really want to work with movie makers," Mr. Francois said. A traditional ad agency would "bring something more commercial, maybe too commercial, and we didn't want to go too commercial," he added. "We wanted to stay authentic and approach this as a little mini-movie."
Testa and Partners also worked on recent co-branded ads FCA made in partnership with "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2."
The Fiat 500X is subcompact crossover that hit dealerships in 2015. Crossovers are among the hottest segments in the auto industry as more buyers shun sedans for pickup trucks and SUVs, partly because of cheaper gas prices. The 500X has been a bright spot for the Fiat brand, whose other models have struggled of late. For instance, sales of the 500 minicar fell 26% in 2015 to 25,084 vehicles, the automaker reported. In December, sales of the 500X reached 1,996, compared with 1,501 for the 500.