Chrysler set a hugely ambitious sales goal for the 2012 Fiat 500 here in the United States: 6,000 units per month. It shouldn't come as a surprise, then, to learn that early sales figures aren't exactly meeting expectations thus far, but according to Chrysler, this isn't by any fault of the car.
"I don't think we have a car problem; people love the car," Fiat chief marketing officer Oliver Francois said while speaking to Advertising Age. "I think we have an awareness problem."
Fiat has dumped its main advertising agency, Impatto, a small Southfield, Michigan-based firm that previously employed Laura Soave, who is now serving as Fiat's North American CEO. According to the report, Soave herself hired the Impatto back in January, and the ad industry rumormill has her on the hot seat for the failed relationship. How much fallout (if any) there will be from Fiat's advertising shakeup and the 500's underperforming launch remains to be seen.
Fiat's first attempt to market the 500 nationally on television has been with a recently launched music video-teasing spot starring Jennifer Lopez (view it after the jump), an effort that has been panned by many industry critics. And while company executives appear to bristle from the notion, Ad Age reports that celebrities have been essential to Fiat's brand strategy. In fact, the New York Post states that Fiat reportedly struck a deal with gossip TMZ in which the automaker would pay the website to photograph high-profile celebrities who were set up to drive the Fiat 500.
To date, Fiat has sold just 11,088 examples of the 500 range in the U.S., 3,106 of which were in August. And with new models like the Abarth not expected to arrive until next year, the 500 and 500C are the only offerings currently available. Head over to Ad Age to read the fascinating full report, and again, hit the jump to watch Fiat's television spot starring the voluptuous Jennifer Lopez.