A Ram pickup truck might have made it easier to build the transcontinental railroad, but including one in a scene of AMC's drama Hell On Wheels would clearly be an anachronism.
Despite the time differences, Ram is a key sponsor of Hell on Wheels and starting Monday, one of its vehicles will be featured in a new commercial that also uses scenes from the show.
The spot was a part of an upfront deal between AMC and the Chrysler brand and was created by the network, which worked in collaboration with the Ram brand team.
"We are always looking for unique opportunities to do something different, says Fred Diaz, the president and CEO of the Ram Truck brand. Ram started its Guts and Glory campaign with a spot called "The Code of the West," and wants its brand aligned with some of the old-fashioned values that were on display during the 1860s, days when honor, a handshake and your word meant something. "You put your faith in us as a truck and we'll deliver for you, Diaz says.
In its time, the Union Pacific Railroad was aiming to do something great, and unprecedented using phenomenal engineering, Diaz says, "and what we are doing today as a brand to build greatness through our outstanding engineering with our truck and become our own self contained brand with its own distinct personality, that was the immediate connection I saw."
He also wants Ram to reflect some of show's rough and edgy aspects. "We like to consider ourselves and bunch of guys and girls that are Hell on Wheels," Diaz. "We give it all we've got. We take corners on two wheels, we are pushing the envelope."
In the spot, which will air about 10 times over two weeks, an announcer says that "to keep moving forward, hard work will prevail and greatness will be achieved" as scenes featuring some of the series' key characters are shown. Then it shifts to showing a Ram truck speeding through a Western landscape followed by a pack of horses. "Doing what's right and good, regardless of the degree of difficulty takes guts, takes glory, takes Ram. Don't miss Hell on Wheels."
"It was just an absolutely perfect cross promotion opportunity for us to both use footage to promote one another," Diaz said. "And they've been wonderful to work with."
At a time when sponsors want their products integrated into shows, AMC has been forced to be creative when it does series like Hell on Wheels.
"We've been there before. We've done stuff with Mad Men as a period piece. Now you have an 1860s Western," says Scott Collins, executive VP for ad sales at AMC and WE-TV. "The subject matter transcends the show itself and the limitations of the period. It's the efforts that went into building that railroad and the dram behind it and the hard work and the blood that was spilled that's part of it. And it resonates with the DNA of Ram."
Neither Collins nor Diaz would discuss financial figures involved in the deal. Chrysler and Ram have been AMC sponsors before, but Collins says "I can definitely tell you they've stepped up in a very dramatic way this year. "
"What we did with AMC is something we'd never done before," added Diaz. "We've always been partners with them but when they brought this unique opportunity to us we decided to do even more with them."
Collins says that the auto category overall this quarter has been very supportive of AMC's originals, both Hell on Wheels and The Walking Dead.
"Fourth quarter we sold out the category in our originals. There were no auto avails at all," he says. "They are recognizing the power of our environment, the critical acclaim, the unapologizing nature of our shows, our strong point of view. They are loving it and it resonates."