Company: Fiat USA
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.
Watch the ad after the jump and give it your own grade below.