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Chrysler Uses Live Stuntmen in New Car Crash Ads

March 8, 1991 GMT

HIGHLAND PARK, Mich. (AP) _ A new Chrysler Corp. television commercial airing this weekend promotes the safety of its air bag-equipped vehicles by showing live stuntmen behind the wheels of two colliding cars.

The two professionals are shown walking away from the head-on collision.

″This kind of stunt is called a ’no-brainer,‴ driver Roger Richman said Friday. ″We put our lives in the hands of technology.″

Chrysler is the only car company known to be running ads that show drivers in air bag-equipped cars as they crash.

In the ad, Richman’s 1991 Chrysler New Yorker is traveling 16 mph when it hits a 1991 Dodge Daytona driven at 17 mph by Kelly Brown, another stuntman.

A little more than a year ago, Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca, then 65, volunteered to be at the wheel of the car as it ran into a wall. But it was decided that a stunt driver should be used instead.

Iacocca has since appeared in air-bag ads in less strenuous roles - talking with survivors of crashes in which air bags were deployed or lecturing senior executives about the need to talk about safety.

This weekend’s commercial is the second Chrysler ad using a driver to demonstrate the air bag. In the first ad, released last spring, Richman drove a 1990 Plymouth Acclaim into a brick wall at 21 mph and walked away.

Automakers are increasingly stressing safety in their advertising at the same time Congress is considering stiffened safety requirements for cars and trucks sold in the United States.

Chrysler equips all of its U.S.-made cars with standard driver-side air bags. Air bags are optional in its minivans and not currently available in Jeeps or pickup trucks.

General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. fleets have a smaller percentage of air bag-equipped cars.

Richman declined to specify his fee for the Chrysler work. But he said he and Brown, both part of the Los Angeles-based stunt driving company Drivers Inc., received somewhat more than the standard stunt adjustment to Screen Actors Guild-mandated minimum fees.

There were no special insurance policies for either driver, they said.

The two-car collision is part of Chrysler’s ″Rediscover America″ advertising campaign using Time Warner Inc.-owned media to relay the car company’s safety message.

Chrysler is buying ads in magazines including Time, Sports Illustrated and Fortune; showing its vehicles in Warner Bros. films, and offering Time-Life books and videos as promotional items. The campaign’s cost was estimated at $40 million.