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Jennifer Lopez's Junk in Fiat's Trunk
By: Shawn Paul Wood
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Celebrity sponsorship can be a high wire act if you haven't carefully considered all facets of public perception. First, vet the product thoroughly. Second, find a celebrity with a personal connection to your product. Lastly, and most importantly, connect the two to the masses. That marriage should be ironclad because it will make or break your campaign. Partnerships that would cause the brakes to screech would be (hypothetically) Mike Vick and the SPCA, Lindsay Lohan supporting MADD, or a Kardashian advocating Mensa membership. Any of them. Including Bruce Jenner.

Among those partnerships that should have caused alarms to blare was Jennifer Lopez and Fiat. What the what?!

Aside from the concern over the ability of one trunk to fit in the other, there's the slight concern over if she would be caught in one of those forgotten compact cars. But, there it is...and now, thanks to the Smoking Gun, it's being burnt under the magnifying glass like ants from the bad kids down the block. It's a multi-million-dollar ad campaign that stresses her cool factor rolling in one of these vehicles. Then, she pimps it out on stage at the AMAs while she is rocking the cougar. And now this: 
While Lopez, Fiat, the automotive firm’s PR people, and its Detroit ad agency would have consumers believe that the star deigned to return home to film a low-speed pilgrimage through the gritty streets of her hometown, she actually never set foot in the Bronx during the filming of the Fiat spots. Instead, the role of “Jenny from the Block” was played by a body double, according to two sources familiar with the commercial production. While the Lopez lookalike was actually behind the wheel in the Bronx, Lopez herself was in Los Angeles, where she was filmed inside a Fiat 500.
If she has these deep roots to the Bronx, why can't she shill for the car in the Boogie Down? It's like her high-tone clothing line...at Kohl's. No knock on Kohl's. That's where cats like me go to look smooth for a paltry price. But J-Lo? She says in her retail spots, "My style tells my story." Well, if she means a style that shows she doesn't have the time to represent because she's too busy filming American Idol, then that's not a story many commoners out there will want to read. Consumers are smarter than that. Similar to her mantra in these Fiat commercials that "This is my world." L.A.? Yes, that is your world. 

Fiat does realize that the J-Lo and Bronx connection is not really smacking of Eminem and Chrysler, right? As the article expresses, the stereotypical shenanigans continue as everything you can envision relative to New York outside of a homicide is in this commercial. MEMO to any colleagues looking for a celebrity to shill for their clients: Do not follow this example. This is credibility suicide — for the celebrity and the brand.

I don't know if either brand is taking a bath, but something has got to give. If Fiat wants to show its street cred, dump the diva and keep it real. Hire Cuba Gooding, Jr. He could pull over that hooptie and breakdance on the mean streets like he used to do on cardboard for cash. Or perhaps Wesley Snipes. He's hurting for cash, and probably a car. That's his hometown. Help a brother out...of jail. How about Nate "Tiny" Archibald. That fits. He could too. Oh, I got it. Hire any rap legend from the '80s —  Kool Keith,
DJ Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, Melee Mel, Slick Rick and the great proprietor of the "Boogie Down Productions," KRS-One. 

Hey Fiat, that's the Bronx. And they probably wouldn't have cost you as much on makeup and "special effects," for what it's worth. 

   

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About the Author
Shawn Paul Wood is a hack-turned-flack with more than 20 years of collective journalism, copywriting and marketing communications experience. Shawn Paul is founder of Woodworks Communications in Dallas, Texas. If you need him, ping him here or follow him on Twitter @ShawnPaulWood
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