Dodge may be living a charmed Fast & Furious life on the big screen, but Ram's first foray into the high-stakes world of motion picture product placements is banged up and busted before the film even leaves the lot.
Last month, Paramount Pictures took the highly unusual step of booking a $115 million impairment charge on an as-yet-unreleased and thrice-delayed film, Monster Trucks, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Such a charge before the release warns investors -- if not the moviegoing public -- that the movie looks like a dud.
"If you know it's going to be a turkey, you have to write it down," media analyst Hal Vogel told the Journal.
The $125 million film -- originally slated to open in mid-2015 and now delayed until January 2017 -- has a 2015 Ram Rebel in a starring role. It also features scores of other Ram pickups and commercial vans as well as older Dodge pickups appearing just within the film's two-minute trailer.
Paramount released the first trailer for Monster Trucks in June, but the live-action film with computer-animated effects looks from the trailer to be a giant commercial. For example, the first five seconds of the trailer show characters moving and speaking before more than a dozen parked and easily identifiable Fiat Chrysler vehicles, primarily Rams.
In addition to male lead Lucas Till, who starred in the X-Men series, the Monster Trucks cast includes Hollywood stars Rob Lowe and Danny Glover.
FCA's chief marketing officer, Olivier Francois, is a huge believer in using movie tie-ins to move the metal.
His previous deals have made Dodge the tire-smoking star of eight successful Fast & Furious movies, put Bruce Wayne behind the wheel of a Jeep Renegade in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and put the main character of this summer's Bad Moms in a 2017 Chrysler Pacifica.
And even when FCA's vehicles aren't in the films themselves, Francois is fond of using movie tie-ins in traditional marketing, as he did with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
But not every movie is a blockbuster. The Fiat 500X was featured in this year's Zoolander 2, and the film largely flopped.
Francois told Automotive News this year that FCA's product placement "choices are not always determined by subjective, artistic or creative criteria."
"We're just accountable [for] the money we spend and the impact we make," he said. "It's not art; it's just bloody marketing."
Even box office bombs can be valuable, and efficient tools for marketers and the products that are placed in them, says Stacy Jones, CEO of Hollywood Branded, an entertainment marketing agency near Los Angeles.
In this case, "Ram is getting into eyeballs without having to pay the incremental media dollar," Jones said. "Not only do you have the theatrical run, but then a film like this goes to streaming video, video on demand ... and Ram is there for the life of that product."
Jones said product placements in films offer brands a way to stand out in a crowded marketplace, especially as streaming services and digital video recorders limit the reach of traditional TV commercials.
"There is a lot of value there, even if the film is a horrible bomb," Jones said. "As a marketer, you can hit a segment audience, target a specific consumer demographic" with a product placement in a genre film.
Said Jones: "Now Ram has something that differentiates itself."