Friday, November 18, 2011

I Give Up, FIAT

After releasing two commercials featuring Jennifer Lopez, FIAT has now released one that does not feature she-of-the-famous-derriere.

Fun commercial.  Sexy commercial.  But precisely the WRONG commercial.
Car geeks (disclosure: I resemble that remark) have awaited the arrival of the Abarth in the US.  For the uninitiated, Abarth started as a company in Italy that turned ordinary FIATs into hot rots.  FIAT now owns the brand and uses it as its in-house performance division, much in the way that Mercedes-Benz has AMG and that BMW has M-Technik.  The idea of adding vitamin horsepower to a little car like the FIAT 500 makes car geeks sweaty.

At its root, the commercial tells the viewer that the Abarth has sex appeal.  Carmakers continually try this approach.  Chrysler, in fact, tried this before in the 1990s when their cars had a distinctive and, I think successful, design direction vis a vis the domestic competition.

But here’s the thing: why does FIAT need to tell the consumer that it looks great?  Can’t they see it with their eyes?  More to the point, the Abarth doesn’t look much different from the basic 500.  It has some fender flares, a distinctive paint scheme and a stripe, but it has the same basic shape as the version currently for sale in the US.

FIAT has chosen to spend 30 seconds of commercial time to inform us that any idiot who can pass a drivers’ license vision test can discern in less than a second.

I give up, FIAT.  While the 500 seems to work just fine, your advertising runs like a vintage X1/9.

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