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Mixed race woman leaning on red convertibleThe distinction between scripted shows and reality offerings on television continues to grow increasingly porous. Actors famous for playing characters show off their actual selves on reality shows. In the meantime, people who first gained fame as a “Real Housewife” or “Survivor” leverage their notoriety into acting careers. In case the lines were not wavy enough, recent marketing moves by the Chrysler group includes advertising in the identity mix as well.

Buoyed by the success of the product placement of the Dodge Challenger and Charger lines in the Syfy Network’s show (and related video game) Defiance, Chrysler moved quickly to develop a series of television advertisements to reflect “The Cherokee Effect.” In these spots, aired on the range of NBCUniversal channels, familiar faces from popular shows appear driving the SUVs and describing how they achieve adventure in their vehicles.

The first four spots star a range of types of celebrities: Sarah Hyland is the young actress who plays the character Haley on Modern Family (which is now in syndication on the NBCUniversal-owned USA Network). Terrence Jenkins presents entertainment news on the E! network. Kyle Richards is a real housewife of Beverly Hills. Former NBA player Baron Davis presents his own style and interviews others to demonstrate How I Rock It. Thus the range of stars is diverse not just in their ages, genders, and races but also in their routes to fame: acting, entertainment news host, reality television star, athlete.

This diversity is purposeful, in that the SUV category appeals to a relatively broad target market. Thus a sports fan might enjoy the Baron Davis spot most, whereas a younger consumer of sitcoms likely will follow Sarah Hyland’s experience more closely.

Yet across the spots, the focus is consistently on the notion that the driving and experiences in the Jeep model they drive are real and accurate depictions of how they live. Each spokesperson provided input to the content of his or her commercial, to help ensure that the dialogue sounds real instead of scripted.

Furthermore, each celebrity’s Jeep adventure comes available in two versions: a 30-second spot that will air on the same NBCUniversal network on which the celebrity’s show airs, and an extended, 2-minute version available through the relevant website. Thus for example, to see Kyle Richards’s longer drive, viewers can click onto bravo.com, and for more on Terrence Jenkins’s Cherokee experience, they can visit E!’s website.

Stuart Elliot, “Recalling TV’s Golden Age, Stars Pitch Products Tied to Their Shows,” The New York Times, December 4, 2013

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