Fergie performed at the American Music Awards, but the real action for her was during commercial breaks.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Fergie performed at the American Music Awards, but the real action for her was during commercial breaks. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Eminem, Fergie and Gwen Stefani were part of the spectacle at the American Music Awards, but they cashed in where it counts, in the flood of car commercials that appeared during the show for such brands as Chrysler, Jeep and Fiat.

Of course, there was a time when music artists wouldn’t be caught dead allowing their music to be used to sell Chryslers.

But times have changed. Artists for years now have been pushing themselves as brands. They are cashing in on commercial endorsements wherever they can find them to bolster sagging revenues from declining record sales.

Cars, perfume, sneakers and even household products are fair game.

Artists Find Some Side Action in AMA Commercials




During the AMA’s, Chrysler Group wanted to build brand identity with younger consumers by going all out with music-related commercials, Chief Marketing Officer Olivier Francois told Ad Age.

Chrysler enlisted big-name recording artists to promote five of its car brands in conjunction with Interscope, an arm of Universal Music. The record label got some extra residual value because the ads also promoted songs in the ad spots.

In the ultimate product placement, Fergie performed her song “L.A. Love” with a a 1965 Chrysler 300 low-rider on stage. Interscope also ponied up for a 60-second spot thanking Chrysler for the collaboration.

The ads, according to the trade publication, used vehicles that had served as product placements in music videos. Fergie was seen with a Chrysler 200 in one of her videos earlier this year.

An ad featuring Eminem’s song, “Guts Over Fear,” touted the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. Gwen Stefani’s song “Spark the Fire” was used to hawk the Fiat 500L sedan.

Even lesser artists got in on the act.

Phillip Phillips, who won the eleventh season of “American Idol” in 2012 had one of his songs, “Unpack Your Heart” featured in a Dodge Ram 1500 pick-up truck commercial.

According to Francois, it’s a deal made in heaven. His cars get the brand identity while top Interscope artists co-markets songs. Perhaps, not surprisingly, fading legacy artists were featured.

Still, the deal smacks of a sell-out at a time when pop music, in particular, is struggling to maintain its relevance and credibility.

Interscope appears to be sensitive to the issue. Chrysler said the label and its artists retained artistic control of the ads. But, in truth, Chrysler’s ad agency actually had the final edit on the 30-second spots, according to Ad Age.

Today’s artists aren’t the only ones cashing in. Even Bob Dylan’s music is being licensed nowadays to sell cars. The times, they definitely are a changin’.

No wonder so many music critics say today’s music sounds so much like television jingles.

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