Fiat Chrysler is sending cars to record labels to boost media impressions via music videos

Six Dodges were used in 'See You Again' – once the most-watched YouTube video of all time / WMG (on behalf of Atlantic Records)

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has quietly been courting record labels to bolster its media impressions, in a complementary strategy capitalizing on the high viewership figures of music videos.

The car marque regularly sends its models to record labels in order for its brands to appear in video form outside their own paid media plans, according to the company’s chief marketing officer, Olivier Francois.

The strategy began as a “little experiment” four years ago but has since paid dividends: Francois reported its brands have been featured in music videos that have collectively amassed 20bn YouTube views.

This figure has risen from the 7.8bn reported in 2016, a year that FCA celebrated its partnership with the record industry – namely Warner Music, Interscope, Atlantic Records and Epic – with a spot named ‘Music Brings Us Together’. More than 4bn of those hits have come from Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Pugh’s video for ‘See You Again’, which features six Dodge vehicles.

The exercise, which Francois said has a cost of “literally zero”, directly capitalizes on YouTube’s prime consumer offering: according to Brandwatch, 95% of the most watched videos on the platform in 2018 were music videos. The marketer said the marque has now built “a nice relationship” with the labels, which it described as “the biggest players in the digital space”.

“Now they’ve discovered that every time they need a car in a music video, they can call us. Every time,” he said. “Sometimes I don’t even offer the car, I just say, ‘Ship it in time for the video shoot’.

“The viewer is engaged – they’re not watching a commercial, they’re watching their favorite band or artist or performer. And it’s very targeted because you know exactly who you’re speaking to. This drives a lot of interest in our cars and doesn’t cost any money.”

FCA has been vocal in the past about its affinity with the music industry, a relationship that symbiotically sees the labels provide talent for its brands’ above-the-line creative. Francois has previously described this as a win for the labels too, who endure the “slow, frustrating and expensive” process of track promotion and welcome a “shortcut” to mainstream media.

The auto company publicized its tie-up with Apple Music by enlisting 10 artists to appear in its ads last year, while Jeep’s partnership with rock band OneRepublic was highlighted in an ad timed with the Super Bowl earlier this month.

However, FCA decided not to pay to air the patriotic, two-minute-long ad during the big game this year. In fact, it withdrew all its brands from the Super Bowl media buy of 2019 and chose to premiere a swathe of ads online instead – a strategy widely hailed as a success.

Jeep and OneRepublic’s ‘More Than Words’ has since amassed 52m views on YouTube and it “didn’t cost millions [of dollars] to get to that”, said Francois. He added that, aside from media spend, the costs of all FCA’s brands’ ‘Super Bowl’ films were low this year, “because when you know it’s not going to go on TV – when you know it’s not going to be a huge Super Bowl commercial – it alleviates a lot of pressure”.

“What matters most is having something to say and a place to say it,” he said. “You don’t need a big game in order to change the game. The magical commercial is one that lives in the moment, and you can craft that through digital from time to time better than TV.”

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