Olivier Francois is both the chief marketing officer of Chrysler and the CEO of Fiat, a job description created when Fiat formed an alliance with Chrysler after the company's 2009 bankruptcy. Fiat today owns a controlling stake in Chrysler. Francois was just credited with Chrysler Group being named Advertiser of the Year by Advertising Age.
The French-born Francois likes high profile, high-engagement advertising for his brands, and has had the most talked about ads in each of the last two Super Bowls: one starring rap star Eminem in 2011 and this year's ad starring actor-director Clint Eastwood. Both ads touted Chrysler's "Imported from Detroit" campaign.
But Francois is now turning up the heat on the Fiat brand, which initially struggled during its 2011 re-launch into the U.S. The Italian brand, which left the U.S. in the 1980s, has made its return with the Fiat 500 (Cinquecento in Europe). There are now over 150 Fiat dealers in the U.S., awareness is climbing thanks to some high profile ads featuring Jennifer Lopez and then Charlie Sheen. Francois said Lopez helped Fiat quadruple its brand awareness and points out that Forbes named Lopez as the No. 1 most influential celebrity in May.
Fiat sales, bolstered by the addition this year of a turbo-charged version of the 500 in addition to the 500 and 500C (convertible) and the Abarth performance version, are on track to top 50,000. That is a faster route to 50,000 than achieved by MINI when it launched a decade ago.
Adweek Magazine also honored Francois with its "Grand Brand Genius for 2012" award, besting nine other finalists for the honor.
Given the popularity of the original funny Abarth ad, Francois has decided Americans aren't as prudish as we appear: At the Los Angeles auto show this week, Fiat showed 5 new Fiat commercials, all with an underlying carnal theme. And we here at AOL Autos are the first to be able to share them with you. Francois says he is considering running one of these ads on the 2013 Super Bowl.
First, we give you the surprising commercial for the Fiat 500e, the electric version of the Fiat 500. Olivier Francois, marketing chief for Chrysler and head of the Fiat brand, said the company wants to take the hippy, hemp, scratchy wool sweater image away from driving green cars and instead make it sexy.
The next three commercials are all for the Fiat L, a four-door version of the Fiat that can seat five. Naturally, Fiat wasn't going to start plopping car seats in the back to show off how expansive the car is. Instead, with the help of some Italian music in the background, they show a little something different:
Finally, Fiat has one commercial that might make women's college graduates cringe a little. For the Fiat 500 Abarth Cabrio, the ad shows a scorpion (which is the animal on the Abarth's logo) crawling up the back of a bikini-clad woman. That woman is Catrinel Menghia, the supermodel who starred in the "Seduction" commercial that first created buzz for Fiat during the SuperBowl earlier this year. As the scorpion comes up her back, you hear her voice saying, "Small, wicked ... and now topless."
Watch for the revealing ending:
Check out our Best of the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show gallery.