• Oct 11, 2011
Company: Fiat USA

Brand: Fiat

Medium: TV

Ad Agency: Doner, Southfield,MI

Product: Fiat 500C

Campaign: Life Is Best When Driven

What We Like: Technically, this is the first ad shot by Fiat with Jennifer Lopez. The first airing of the J. Lo/Fiat partnership was last month when the Italian automaker began running a cut-down version of a new Lopez video that features the 500. That video drew fire from some of the blogosphere. One wag actually said it was the worst car ad he had ever seen. Really? We don't think so. Fiat is chasing awareness, and fast. What better way than to link up with one of the hottest music, film and TV pop stars. The video and this ad don't get into the performance or experience of driving a 500C, but this is meant unabashedly to drive pure awareness, curiosity and conversation. Based on online search data and YouTube views, the strategy is working. Since Lopez has a big crossover audience among both Latinos and non-Latinos, she is also a pretty logical medium through which to attract people. Latinos are also arguably more aware of Fiat as a brand than U.S.A. drivers since the brand has long been distributed in South America. Fiat has for years retained the top spot in Brazil's auto market, which is among the world's fastest growing.

The ad features Lopez driving the 500C through the Bronx where she was born. It has a bit of the feel, in terms of the way it was shot, of the "Imported From Detroit" ads Chrysler is now running with gritty looking shots of Detroit.

What We Don't Like: The opening of the video has J. Lo saying, "Here... this is my world..." Lopez was born in the Bronx in 1969. And while we have no doubt that she has a soft spot for the Bronx, she has, according to online reports, been living in a gated house in Long Island and just recently bought an $18-million place in the Hamptons. These neighborhoods – pickup basketball games, break dancers, barbershops and graffiti – may be in the veins of Lopez, in her roots, but they aren't much a part of her life today. The closing scene of the ad with kids running after her car? What's up with that? How about pulling over and hanging out? She does get out of the car and hug a few kids in front of what we are led to believe might be the building in which she grew up.

We figure Lopez exerted script approval before shooting the ad, but we might have suggested writing more honest sounding prose – and maybe just a little something about the car – for her to say in the voiceover.

Strategy: Fiat has been out of the U.S. for 25 years, and is unknown to most U.S. car buyers – unless they are from or have spent a lot of time in Italy and Latin America – under the age of 40. The company is trying to get people talking about and recognizing Fiat. The company was slow to open its Fiat studios since launching last spring, so it is behind in meeting its U.S. sales target. With a high-profile media buy on the NFL, and getting 500s into rental fleets, it is trying to jumpstart its awareness.

The Fiat 500 has a lot of potential. The engine is a little under-powered, the backseat a bit cramped, and the fuel economy under-delivers a bit on expectations for a car this small. But the design of the car inside and out is just plain fun. And the 500C, the cabrio, is a blast to drive with the cloth roman-shade-style top retracted. Fiat did a nice job of preserving the elements of the 500 that make you feel like you are driving a cool little European car, which, of course, you are.

Grade: B+

Watch the ad after the jump and give it your own grade below.






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  • 61 Comments
      RocketRed
      • 3 Years Ago
      It's an OK ad. For all of her decades of fail at the movies, in fashion, a very annoying speaking voice, and her very mediocre music, she manages to retain an appearance of being accessible and decent. And she remains "ethnic" without stressing out middle america---or anyone besides cashsixeight. Also, she remains nice to look at.
      kevsflanagan
      • 3 Years Ago
      The ad means well but just fails. They need to showcase the car not a celebirty. Create like 4 ad's all with different music (rock, hip hop, country, soft rock). But purely showcase the car. Handling, the interior, and mpg.
      jjp001
      • 3 Years Ago
      David, Obviously, you are not a New Yorker, so cannot totally relate with what this ad campaign is about. Case in point: the following paragraph from your piece: "...We figure Lopez exerted script approval before shooting the ad, but we might have suggested writing more honest sounding prose – and maybe just a little something about the car – for her to say in the voiceover..." What J. Lo is doing is showing what is real life in the "barrios" of the boroughs of New York City. While the ad was obviously choreographed, the images of the people shown in the ad are close to real. I'm not saying this just because she's Jennifer Lopez, but ANY New Yorker who is IMMENSELY proud of being from the "barrios" of New York City (myself included) would be captivating. As for her not saying anything technical about the 500, well, stuff happens, and she can be a spokesperson, but everyone will know she might not be that car-savvy and will think she's faking the knowledge of the car. So the writers of the script probably played it safe in that regard--and did well. Fiat's marketing team is trying to make an effort to reach out to urban dwellers having a hard time to park their SUVs and can make do with a smaller vehicle, yet want an alternative to the Smart and Mini-Cooper. So while I respect your comments about the 500 being underpowered, remember that this is their first of a series of baby steps to re-penetrate the U.S. market. I myself am greatly disappointed they haven't yet brought a decent--AND reasonably priced--Alfa Romeo across the pond, but I'm being patient with them on that regard as well. All in all, while you're more concerned about the technical aspects of the car, step back and think who was this commercial geared to. You might appreciate what it does to the viewing public a tad better.
      philippejentsch
      • 3 Years Ago
      I think that the 500 is awesome and should have a gender-free marketing... The video/commercial "Get Ready" showing the manufacturing and resemblance to everyday getting ready routine was (is) the best commercial I have seen in a long time. Why not more of that?
      Master Austin
      • 3 Years Ago
      I dont know, but driving a Fiat thru the Bronx is sort of like a transvestite walking into church...you going to get beat up!
      lorenzo
      • 3 Years Ago
      I cant wait to see the ads directed to the male demo when the Abarth comes out....
      peakarach1
      • 3 Years Ago
      I actually enjoy the commercial but is not my kind of car. Hey did anyone saw Jackie Chan new V8 commerical?
        Spotted Cow
        • 3 Years Ago
        @peakarach1
        I've had the opposite reaction, and by opposite I mean total utter polarizing opposition. This car is too cool for some pop star to be talking about her diamond ring shining bright without Enrique being in her life. What a dumb song, honestly, and to pair it with a proper introduction in commercial form of a great iconic car.
        Spotted Cow
        • 3 Years Ago
        @peakarach1
        Was referring to the first commercial.
      ellmoe2000
      • 3 Years Ago
      What I don't understand is bringing out the first Fiat commercial, which didn't air that long, and then switching to the new commercial. If she is trying to project an image, they should have aired the second on first. It doesn't make any sense. If she is supposed to be the spokesperson for Fiat, Something should be said about the car in the ads. As a consumer watching the commercial, all I see is a star driving around in a little car. The ad doesn't tell me anything about the car or why I should buy it. Oh, maybe I should buy it because J Lo drives one. Yea right, LOL. I don't think a star like J Lo would be caught dead in one of those cars. Come on now. Get Real.
      Joe
      • 3 Years Ago
      Pathetic...trying to use a Puerto Rican as a fake "Italian girl" in the ad. What a joke ! Use Maria Bartiromo !
      Khoi Nguyen Fitbodyl
      • 3 Years Ago
      Fiat has ruined this car by associating it with Jennifer Lopez. Fiat has alienated the male demographic from every buying this car by feminizing it and associating it with trash. Car ads should be about the car not about some ghetto dog coming out of the ghetto than back again. Back to Mini it is.
        donnieorama
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Khoi Nguyen Fitbodyl
        Dude. This car isn't meant for men in the first place.
          Mike Pulsifer
          • 3 Years Ago
          @donnieorama
          Really? I'm just as much a man as the next guy and I love my 500 Sport. (with racing stripe for an extra 5 HP ;-) )
      cashsixeight
      • 3 Years Ago
      Fiat, why did you think it was good to associate yourself with a wannabe hoodlum latino???
      carfan
      • 3 Years Ago
      her fat ass would never ever sit in a fiat 500 never, this woman should advertise for overweight womens underwear not for this machinery. What a waste of money, Marchionne
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