"The music industry has been good to us and we've been good to it," Francois tells Billboard. "For us to be associated with this industry and these musicians and their songs, it makes our message incredibly more relevant than, say, a regular commercial of a car running on the road. It's a better way to send our message and tell our story, for all our brands."
FCA's music initiatives have included high-profile Super Bowl ads featuring Eminem and Bob Dylan, while last year's AMA partnership with Interscope included spots with Eminem (Dodge), Gwen Stefani (Fiat), Fergie (Chrysler), Phillip Phillips (Ram) and Imagine Dragons (Jeep). This year FCA created one spot with each of the labels:
"When brand partnerships are done well, they create moments that resonate with customers, excite fans and bring artists to a new audience," Warner Music Group president of worldwide A&R Mike Caren said in a statement. "Olivier Francois and his team ... understand the power that music has to move culture and connect people to products. Together, we've produced something innovative and unique that takes both FCA's brands and Charlie Puth's amazing song in a while new direction."
2015 American Music Awards Photos: Red Carpet & More
Francois says the partnerships allows FCA a subtle sell for its vehicles by providing funding for video production that the labels and artists can use to their benefit. "We've been doing a favor to the music industry. We've helped up-and-coming artists," Francois explains, noting a tie-in with X Ambassadors earlier this year, using the fledgling group's song "Renegades" in ads to launch its new edition of the Jeep Renegade.
"With regular commercials, you can do 10, 20 million views maybe," Francois says. "That's great. But with music you can do incredible, phenomenal numbers, and this is almost free visibility for your brand and for shaping the personal and perception of your brand. It's the most cost-efficient way to get visibility and relevance at the same time."
Francois says there was also a determination for this year's AMA campaign to focus on newer and breaking artists after going with established stars a year ago.
"This year I was more in this mood of partnering with people who are still in need of some push," he says. "I wanted to pay this tribute to the music industry, so I said, 'Let's try to be more useful.' They probably don't need me to break a new Eminem or JLo or Gwen Stefani [song]. So I thought it would be cooler and more playful and more gutsy to work with people who are not huge stars yet, who I wasn't familiar with, but who cares? Maybe a year ago I would have said, 'No, give me Justin Timberlake instead.' But this felt like the way for us to go this time. It's a win-win partnership."