Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs, Pharrell Williams’ ‘Happy’ Featured in Fiat Ad Global Campaign (Exclusive)

Following its 2011 spots featuring J-Lo (including a music video-like spot where she performs her single “Papi”) and its 2013 campaign with Pitbull and Arianna singing “Sexy People,” Fiat is upping the ante for its new 2014 global campaign.

Set to premiere on television Feb. 13 (below), the new spot, titled “Mirage,” features a hot song -- Pharrell Williams’ “Happy,” playing in the background. But it also features Sean “Diddy” Combs, touting not only the new four-door Fiat 500L, but also Aquahydrate, his own brand of “performance water” (a venture he has with Mark Wahlberg) and his new cable TV network Revolt.

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The ad opens with two guys stumbling through the dessert, thirsty and delirious. When two 500L Fiats full of pretty girls -- “Happy” blaring from their sound system -- pull up and Diddy offers them a bottle of Aquahydrate, they dismiss them as mirages. Later, when they reach an oasis in full party mode with a big banner that says “Revolt” and Diddy again greets them with water (“Happy” continues to play in the background), they still deem all this a mirage, because as everybody knows, Fiat only makes two-door cars.

The spot is an example of what Chrysler chief marketing officer Olivier Francois calls the “triangulation of brands.” “Fiat could never write a check for an appearance from Diddy,” Francois said during a presentation in Midem. “But we are able to offer something instead. The connection. The exposure. The triangulation of brands. Is it product placement?  Of course it is. It’s Diddy’s products in our ad. But it makes as much sense as water in the desert. And in return, we get something unique. Him.”

Francois later told Billboard that Fiat had licensed the rights to “Happy” for use in the spot worldwide. “It’s a global partnership,” he said, adding that the Fiat spot will help propel the track to even greater popularity around the world.

“Happy,” of course, already has notable traction. It’s featured on the “Despicable Me 2” soundtrack album and is also nominated for an Academy Award. The song currently stands at No. 8 on the Hot 100.

Francois heard the track early on in the process, when Williams invited him to the studio to listen to new material for possible collaborations down the line. “There was one song that stuck in my head: ‘Happy,’” Francois said at Midem. “That song and the Fiat brand were a match made in heaven.”

Francois, who says he looks for stars to align when he sets out to do his campaigns (which includes the famous 2011 “Imported from Detroit” spot for the Chrysler 200 featuring Eminem and this year’s “America’s Import” Super Bowl spot featuring Bob Dylan which has garnered 11 million views on YouTube and was ranked No. 11 in USA Today’s Ad meter for Super Bowl Sunday), found the perfect partner in Diddy and the launch of his product. “Music is the connector between us, the artist and another story,” Francois said.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

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