• Oct 21, 2009
Controversial Tibet Lancia commercial -- Click above to watch video

Fiat exec Olivier Francois has a big reputation that's based on results. As head of the Lancia brand, he has garnered it more attention than it's had in many years, and the marque sells more cars more consistently. He has done this with a flair for marketing that begs for attention, and if it takes controversy to get attention then so be it. Fiat chief Sergio Marchionne chose Francois to be the CEO of Chrysler vehicles and run the Chrysler Group's marketing, advertising and brand development and strategies. It is expected, then, that he will bring his risque marketing ways to the house of The Pentastar.

Francois was the man behind the Lancia ad that had Richard Gere driving the new Delta into Tibet. As if that weren't enough, the ad was shown during the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics. You can imagine how happy the Chinese were about that, but the larger story was that it worked: the ad and the controversy got play everywhere, and Fiat only had to make a formal apology to China to get on with business. Francois also made a commercial that honors Aung San Suu Kyi, a political prisoner in Myanmar.

This is the kind of advertising, though, that's more acceptable, and probably more effective, in Europe. In America, a commercial about a robot committing suicide is cause for protests, and VW's Routan campaign in which people have babies in order to justify buying the minivan is decried as insensitive by people who can't have babies. America is not the first country where one would test the limits of corporate daring or broadcast a ribald sense of humor to a mass market audience. The complete remaking of Chrysler and the company's former history of not being just another carmaker could give Francois room to bang up against some cultural boundaries. But we'd still advise Fiat to keep a crisis PR team on hold. Follow the jump to see the Delta commercial.

[Source: Ad Age]



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 27 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      i think the controversy is that it says "dare to be different" and basically it's a darker colored murano with different front.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Well, anything is better than "When you turn your car on, does it return the favor?"
        • 5 Years Ago
        @audi_arena it dose it's just subtle, the context of tibet, religious leader, struggle for freedom, is just an odd one to correlate with hollywood.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Well I thought it was catchy. At least you'll remember it... unlike Chrysler's....uh... See? I don't remember.
        • 5 Years Ago
        This is more smoke and mirrors from Sergio, because the bottom line is that Chrysler has no new product except warmed over Jeeps and 300s. What's good ol' Olivier going to do with a Caliber? Imagine Richard Gere driving a Caliber into Tibet, with its straining, CVT-burdened, agricultural-sounding 4 cylinder engine scaring all of the yak in his path.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @BigWill: Then I guess he should drive an SRT4, with 285hp and a six-speed Getrag. He'll be past the yaks before they know it!

        I guess you have missed the great advance word on the next 300 and Charger, here and elsewhere. Fiat didn't get involved with Chrysler for their products, anyway. It's for North American production capacity, distribution, and dealer networks. And you might want to wait until the five-year plan is released next month. Then you can criticize facts instead of "smoke and mirrors".
        • 5 Years Ago
        @ Sean:

        Lol, but actually I think it's the exact opposite: It's not intellectual enough... Whats the point of this ad? It doesn't make a statement about anything; It's like they sat around a table saying "We need a controversial ad- what are some of the most controversial topics around?? Tibet!! Excellent, now make an ad about it... I don't care what it's about as long as it has cute little tibetan monks in it"
      • 5 Years Ago
      Lancias can drive over water?
        • 5 Years Ago
        wtf comment system fail. I woudnt expect anything less from AOL
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is a gem of a line. I found it impressive.
        • 5 Years Ago
        ^^^ wrong place. It was meant as a response to Level's comment.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Mr. Francois will find a steep uphill battle. The US automotive marketing culture (less so for the ad agencies) are stuck in the 80s and have a bad habit of appealing to the lowest common denominator, i.e. treating the audience as if they were infants. There will be a lot of dealer push back for cerebral ads like the Delta spot above, as well as massive internal fights for those who'd rather push incentives and discounts because that's all they've ever done and know.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Robert Geere? lol.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Robert Geere? lol."


        Who?
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm all for it, it's time some Americans grow a pair.....
        • 5 Years Ago
        That is a gem of a line. I found it impressive.
      • 5 Years Ago
      From Hollywood to Asia in one drive - Lancia Delta.
      • 5 Years Ago
      There is a difference between 'insensitive' and 'impactful' advertising. I remember the one where dodge caliber made fun of gays where a guy was de-masculated by walking a small dog or something to that effect. basically, you can impact people WITHOUT alienating them and thats the idea of good marketing. It should be smart, worldly and memorable.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Oooh just the thought of a new Delta in my Los Angeles backyard makes me giddy...I love that car.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I like the Lancia...can they make a comeback? Gere's getting a bit over the hill...
      • 5 Years Ago
      We've been inundated, by Chrysler, in Canada with the "We build..............outhouses, cars nobody wants, stuff you wouldn't pay for" advertising routine. Advertising rates must be at historically low levels. Sadly, I expect the first of the "controversial" ads will begin with "sure we sold you a bunch of crap before......but now we present the new and improved outhouse of the century". Chrysler is beyond dead, even here in price is everything land, and anyone who thinks Chrysler is heading for anything other than Chapter 7 is completely delusional. I'm talking to you Sergio.
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