FIAT is blazing a nontraditional marketing path to support the launch of the 500e, the company’s first all-electric vehicle.

The Italian automaker is using a mix of event marketing and brand partnerships to promote the vehicle’s launch in California.

Those include events and brands that are endemic to California, as well as companies looking to build their presence in The Golden State.

For example, FIAT is running a cross-promotion with the Jones Soda Co.’s new Natural Jones Soda line. Jones launched the low calorie drink exclusively in California earlier this year.

On the event front, FIAT will sponsor the July 20-28 Vans US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, Calif. The automaker also has inked a separate marketing partnership with Vans, sources said.

Vans—a brand that epitomizes the Southern California lifestyle—this year replaced Nike as the title sponsor of the US Open of Surfing.  

FIAT will activate the event by displaying a 500e on center stage during a Vans fashion show, said Jason Stoicevich, head of FIAT Brand North America. The atuomaker also will display the Abarth and 500L and distribute phrase books that translate swimming and nautical terminology into Italian.

“We want to create an environment that reinforces the fun and energy that characterizes both the FIAT brand and the US Open of Surfing.”

FIAT is using its partnership with Jones Soda to promote the 500e in front of progressive, health-conscious consumers.

The two companies are activating the tie with the “Jonesin’ for a FIAT 500e” photo contest that dangles an electric vehicle, surf lessons with Jones-sponsored pro surfer Brianna Cope and other prizes. 

Jones—which is known for switching up labels on its products—will feature the winning photo on a run of Natural Jones Soda in 2014.

Consumers can enter the contest on www.Jonessoda.com as well as the brand’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Consumers enter the promotion using the #JonesinforaFiat500 hashtag.

The promotion kicked off this month and runs through October. 

FIAT will tout the partnership at the Vans US Open of Surfing with product sampling and Cope autograph-signing sessions. 

FIAT also is sampling at dealerships (aka studios) in California.