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Chevrolet, Chrysler Tap Hollywood for High-Concept Ads

Sheen_And_Pullman_Chrysler_Ad.jpg Manufacturer image

CARS.COM — Amid surging and dipping sales for the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu and Chrysler 200, respectively, GM and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles are using innovative advertising to help their sedans stand out to the current wave of SUV-focused shoppers. Both campaigns enlist big-name talent, theatrical presentation and winking pop-culture references, while cleverly communicating salient points.

Related: Best of the ‘Bowl: Cars.com’s Favorite Super Bowl Ads

Chevy’s ad, for the 2016 Malibu and Cruze, sells the sedans on the strength of their active safety features to savvy movie audiences. The one-minute spot, directed by horror visionary Sam Raimi of “The Evil Dead” (and “Spider-Man”) fame, plays on familiar fright-film tropes with an ironic twist. According to USA Today, the automaker expects the ad to show on 14,000 movie screens over the next six months.

A lone woman enters a quintessentially creepy old house on a windy fall day and encounters a host of paranormal activity immediately upon entering. As spooky noises sound and apparitions appear all around her, she moves toward a closed door with an ominous presence behind it. As she reaches for the doorknob to make one of the oldest horror-movie mistakes in the book, disembodied voices – ostensibly from the fictional movie audience watching the goings-on – warn her not to follow through with the ill-advised entry. Unlike every character in any scary movie ever, the woman heeds the admonition and walks away unscathed, followed by the message, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have a warning before bad things happen?”

Chrysler also promotes safety features in one of multiple ads for the 2016 Chrysler 200 and 300 timed and themed for the Presidents Day holiday and primary season. The “Premium to the People” series stars Martin Sheen and Bill Pullman, both of whom have previously played the president of the United States in TV’s “The West Wing” and in the 1996 summer blockbuster “Independence Day,” respectively.

In the safety spot, titled “Swerve,” the pair of past POTUS talk to each other through the windows of their Chrysler cars, comparing the treacherous navigation of political campaigns to negotiating the dangers of the road in a car. Like “pandering to the nuts on the political fringe” then “swerving right back to the middle” after the election, Chrysler safety systems such as blind spot monitoring and collision warning “keep you from crushing your campaign.”

In other auto-advertising news: Matthew McConaughey, never one to be outdone, appears in his latest ad for Ford’s luxury brand arguing with the passengers in his 2016 Lincoln Navigator over whether to get sushi or barbecue for lunch. Of course, the backseat occupants are a pair of dogs, because … well, McConaughey.

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