Just when a lull in automotive headlines made it seem like random conversations comparing the 2019 Ford Edge vs 2019 Dodge Journey could end up being the premier automotive headline of the summer, the seeds of a more compelling showdown were being sowed (not that that’s saying much).
On June 9th, Justin Bieber set Twitter (as well as Scientology, the mixed martial arts community, and apparently some fat doobage) ablaze when he arbitrarily challenged 59-year old megastar Tom Cruise to fight him, in the UFC octagon, looping in UFC President Dana White while doing so.
And while there had been no formal response from Tom Cruise’s camp, TMZ reported on June 20th that Dana White claimed to have been contacted by interested parties from both sides. “As crazy as that sounds, that is true… I don’t want to use any names, but I was at home on a Sunday, and I got a call with two big guys on the phone,” White said. “They were telling me this could possibly happen and this could be real. I’m like, there’s no way this is really going to happen. But if it does, call me back. I’m in.”
As the summer progressed, nothing really came of the story. But, just as the whole thing started to feel like some sort of publicity stunt or pop-culture distraction, the headline found a second wind—this time thanks to the fact that both Ford and FCA’s marketing teams seem to recognize an opportunity when they see one.
“The ever-increasing popularity of the crossover SUV segment has left it over-inundated with too many options, these days,” explains Dee Truitt-Steele, FCA Director of Communication. “While we’d love for a quality offering like the Dodge Journey to stand on its own two feet in the eyes of the consumer, we also recognize the need for bolder steps to be taken.”
And her counterpart at Ford, Lieu Ovelle, agreed stating, “It truly is a go big or go home situation, and we need to embrace all of the options available to us.” So, with aligned aspirations, both Truitt-Steele and Ovelle led their teams to approve one of the most ambitious (and random) cross-marketing battlegrounds ever conceived.
First, Ford opened up their checkbooks to purchase the rights to use three new Justin Bieber songs, “I Don’t Care” (a duet with Ed Sheeran), “Better With You,” and “Sorry,” for use in mass media marketing campaigns. In addition, they were able to negotiate Bieber himself in an endorsement deal. So (we guess) you can expect more of this…
Then, on Friday, July 19th, in front of the crowd at San Diego Comic-Con, Tom Cruise surprised the crowd (and the world) with the wait-worthy trailer for Top Gun: Maverick, a film which (now) counts Dodge among their primary corporate sponsors—allowing for cross-marketing opportunities of their own featuring the Hollywood A-Lister.
While it could be argued that neither Cruise or Bieber carry the same draw and appeal as they had in the past, ‘the fight that never happened’ had restored a sense of buzz-worthiness about both of them. But where to go from here?
According to guerrilla publication EW Underground, Cruise’s team is at a crossroads alleging that—despite the actor’s bold physicality—his increasing age casts a degree of uncertainty on his long-term viability and that ‘Maverick’ is considered by some to be the perfect Swan Song, allowing him to exit Hollywood on a high note (as opposed to leaving a sad, old man, struggling to rappel down the side of a senior living center).
Ironically, Bieber’s team faces a similar dilemma—except his potential for long-term success is hindered less by age and more by an unprecedented strain of aggressive Chlamydia, slowly infecting his nervous system and higher brain functions. According to an unnamed source, “He has eighteen months at best. Soon he won’t be able to form even basic words, plus, that dick is holding on by a little bit of skin. It’s like a loose tooth down there, just wiggling around…”
So, while Dana White holds UFC audiences captive with the vague promise of a fight they never really asked for, FCA and Ford seem to be serving it up in even more epic fashion. Rather than force both celebrities into an octagon where they would fight (reaching a comparatively small niche audience) the automakers intend to have them both showdown on the global stage with entertainment giant Disney there to back them up.
Disney, of course, controls 99.9% of all established entertainment unions including the Screen Actors Guild and its AFTRA division (which protects musicians and dancers). And with the ‘House of Mouse’ diversifying their interests into more adult fare, it appears that they’ve all but offered up Maine Street USA at Disneyland as the site of the most epic battle-to-the-death ever seen. That’s right, via the contracts they’ve signed, and with all the power of Walt Disney behind them, Justin Bieber and Tom Cruise will pilot the Edge and Journey (respectively) in an unprecedented high-stakes game of ‘Chicken Royale’ where either, or both of them, might die.
“Strike when the iron’s hot, that’s what I always say,” claims Dee Truitt-Steele. “Here at Dodge, we intend to win and create some genuine organic excitement around this year’s Dodge Journey. It’s really too good of an opportunity to pass up.”