The Abarth is a performance version of the Fiat 500 that hit showrooms last spring. In Europe, where the current version of the car has been on sale for several years, it is known as the Cinquecento.
Fiat is trying to establish awareness in the U.S. after a 25 year absence. On Sunday, the company arranged for Jennifer Lopez, who has been appearing in Fiat ads, to appear to drive the 500 Gucci edition on the stage of the American Music Awards broadcast on ABC.
Fiat, and Europe in general, is known for running ads that are much more sexually suggestive than ads that run in the U.S.
In the ad, titled "Seduction," a geeky looking man is walking down the street when he spots a gorgeous model bent over adjusting the strap on her shoe. She notices him gazing at her, and, shouting in Italian, chastises him for ogling her. The encounter, though, quickly turns gentler and she whispers in his ear, dips her finger in the foam in his latte, and then ... well, you'll have to view the ad to decide if the imagery is too suggestive for America's more Puritan eyes and ears.
"Networks in the U.S. have much stricter standards, which makes the ads we see in the U.S. routinely less interesting than what you see in Europe and South America," says AOL Autos Editor-in-Chief David Kiley, who is a former editor and columnist at ad industry magazine Adweek. "The other issue you have in the U.S. is that religious-based 'family' organizations will start issuing press releases and organizing boycotts if they think an ad is corrupting on some level, or has too much sexual innuendo."
Fiat CEO Olivier Francois, who also oversees marketing of Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep in the U.S., said the U.S. agency who created the ad, Dallas-based Richards Group, "intended it to be viral, but I am considering running it as an ad too, but I'm not sure. It may be too much."
What do you think?