Dozens of celebrities, including Lady GaGa, Michael Keaton and Morgan Freeman, vied for attention at the Golden Globes Sunday night. One luminary received an extra push.
Derek Zoolander, the comedic creation of actor Ben Stiller,crashed the event by appearing in a 60-second commercial from Fiat late in the 9 p.m. ET hour Sunday evening. In doing so, he signaled movie-studio backer Paramount’s intention to market its new film, “Zoolander 2” in aggressive fashion.
In the ad, Stiller’s character flashes his trademark “Blue Steel” look to a traffic camera again and again, all the while appeaing in a sporty yellow 2016 Fiat 500X. The ad was directed by Jeff Mann, the film’s director, and Stiller wrote devised the dialogue and scenario, according to executives from both Fiat and Paramount. A trailer for the movie appeared earlier in the Globes broadcast on NBC.
“It is going to be one of the pop-culture moments of this year, the first half of 2016,” said Olivier Francois, chief marketing officer of FCA US, Fiat’s U.S. operating unit, in an interview. “We are always interested in considering partnerships with these special moments.” Fiat will also have its vehicles woven into the film, which was shot in Rome, as part of a financial arrangement, said Francois. He hopes the alliance with the “Zoolander” movie will make consumers think of the car as “distinctive, sexy, trendy, irreverent,” he said.
“Zoolander 2,” the sequel to the 2001 satire about a clueless male fashion model, is expected to open February 12 and is part of an ambitious plan by the Viacom-owned movie studio to revive its recent performance.
The studio is slated later this year to open the next iterations in its “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “Star Trek” franchises and is also the backer of “The Big Short,” the financial-industry lampoon that has garnered positive notices. In remarks made to investors last year, Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman projected better performance from the studio this year. “Paramount will get back to where it should be,” the executive said in December, referring to a slower slate of releases and tepid operating results at the unit in the recent past.
“This will be one of our first big movies of the year,” said LeeAnne Stables, president of worldwide marketing partnerships at Paramount, in an interview. The studio has previously released a trailer for the second “Zoolander” and made it available online and via social media, she said. But Sunday’s release of the the Fiat ad marks the first attempt to put Stiller’s character and the movie’s coming release in front of a broader audience of potential customers.
Fiat will continue to show a 30-second version of the commercial on TV in weeks to come, said Francois, and it will likely remain on the air until the movie’s February release.
Movie studios and advertisers routinely indulge in agreements of “co-marketing” that have an automaker, fast-food chain or other Madison Avenue resident help draw attention to a coming release with its own advertising. FCA’s Francois said the automaker has routinely partnered its Fiat and Dodge brands with different movies in efforts to align new vehicles with new popular-culture properties.
Paramount and Fiat teamed up previously in the run-up to the release of “Anchorman 2.” Will Ferrell, the lead of that comedy, appeared in a Dodge commercial as the central character of the film, newscaster Ron Burgundy, and served as an offbeat spokesman for a Dodge vehicle.