That Time Chrysler Bought a Princess's Dodge 'Endorsement'

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

The seaside city-state of Monaco is no stranger to yachts, but in late 1973 an American barge powered by a smog-strangled V8 appeared on its shores.

Chrysler Corporation was on site to film a TV commercial for the new full-size Dodge Monaco, a conservatively styled model with terrible timing. The model’s name evoked glamour and elegance, and the automaker hoped some of the glitz would rub off on the redesigned ’74 full-sizer.

There was another reason for the location shoot. A very special guest would appear in the ad — Princess Grace of Monaco (formerly American actress Grace Kelly). And the princess would help sell the car, whether she wanted to or not.

As a 1950s starlet, Kelly was the embodiment of glamour and style, starring in box office blockbusters like To Catch a Thief and Rear Window. Her fairytale marriage to Prince Rainier III in 1956 ended her acting career, but her new role as princess elevated her to almost mythical status. Still glamorous, but now with a touch of magic — everything the 1974 Monaco was not.

Obviously, Princess Grace wasn’t prepared to sling Chrysler C-bodies, but her consent wasn’t needed. The automaker had acquired the rights to the promotional film Monaco Now, directed by Francois Reichenbach. It had all the necessary action shots of happy Monacans living the high life, with the added bonus of a narration by Princess Grace.

So, Chrysler ran all the best parts in its ad, kept the princess’s narration (she’s discussing the wonders of Monaco, not the car), then had a Monaco hardtop roll up to the Hotel Metropole to close out the commercial. What a (sort of) celebrity endorsement!

Sneaky, sure. Transparent? Definitely. But hey, it’s the ad business. And the drinking-at-noon, lampshade-on-head era wasn’t over. When Chrysler Corp. turned the upscale Monaco Custom into the Royal Monaco for 1975, Princess Grace unwittingly promoted that model, too.

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Jeff S Jeff S on Sep 05, 2016

    As long as that Australian is driving a 1975 Royal Monaco wearing a London Fog trench coat just to stay on topic. It is interesting that an article about Dodge Monaco advertising has brought up a discussion about US foreign policy. It would be nice if foreign policy were as simple as a Dodge Monaco, but it isn't.

  • PrincipalDan PrincipalDan on Sep 05, 2016

    Damnit I'm sure there was a car in this conversation somewhere. If only we could find it...

  • Jkross22 The contrived, forced, overproduced jokes and antics were fun 15 years ago, but it's been the same thing over and over since. The last few years of Top Gear were heading this direction and the 3 were phoning it in. They should have either done something completely different and tried something new. Instead they played it safe.
  • SCE to AUX "...identified during our rigorous validation process"Not so rigorous, if they ended up on dealer lots. 🙄
  • Ras815 Their naming scheme is almost as idiotic as having a totally separate Polestar brand for EVs that look exactly Volvos. But you can tell it came from the same idiocy.
  • Dukeisduke "The EX naming convention is used for the automaker’s new and upcoming EVs, the EX30 and EX90."Only upcoming when they can figure out the software.
  • SCE to AUX I've always said that consumer/business pressures will reign in government decrees, as they have in the past in places like California. That state has moved the goalposts many times for "ZEV" mandates.But the problem is the depth of politicization of the EPA. Mfrs need continuity and long-term commitment to requirements, not living on a 4-year political cycle of who's in the White House and Congress. Your President - whomever that is - isn't going to be around forever.Ironically, backing off the gas means handing a greater lead to Tesla, Rivian, and Lucid, (and possibly H/K/G). The whiners have begun heavy investments whose ROI will be extended by years, and their EV sales will reduce even further.It's like the coach granting his players less practice time because they're tired, while the other team stays fit - that's how you lose the game.