Wednesday, February 23, 2011

From Rome #3: “FIAT Arrives – the Second Time Around…”

In the previous post, PAN had translated the FIAT post I’d submitted into Italian for its clients and prospects. Here is the original…more or less.

One classy Italian that’s coming back to America is the new Fiat 500. The tiny comeback is premiering as part of Fiat’s new alliance with Chrysler Corporation.

The last time Fiat sold cars in the US under its own brand name, Ronald Reagan was President, Terms of Endearment won the Oscar for the Best Picture and Michael Jackson took home a Grammy for “Beat It.” That was 1984.

(Twenty years earlier in ‘64, when I was…younger…a friend and I drove his microscopic Fiat 500 to Seattle, Washington, from Atlanta, Georgia. It was an excruciating round trip for someone my size: 4400 miles or 7000 kilometers. I look forward to discovering if the new 500 is more appealing.)

So in just a few weeks, the first Fiat 500s will roll into the carmaker’s new US showrooms. There’s already one in Austin, TX. The new car is supposed to be priced at US$15,500 for the basic model. For those who enjoy life’s little luxuries, there’s a model with all the premium bits for US$25,500.

Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne, also the CEO of Chrysler, believes that the time is just right to relaunch the Fiat marque. He says in Ad Age magazine, “We want Fiat to be a global brand, and the 500 is the perfect vehicle with which to re-open the conversation with Americans.”

Fiat is going to have to prove that its new car is not just fun to drive – the brand’s got to overcome American resistance to small cars. (BMW’s Mini Cooper brand has lots of cool but not a large market share.) There’s also the reliability challenge – quality became a major problem with the old Fiat models back in the early 1980s.

The ad industry’s waiting to see what the new US ad agency for Fiat, Impatto, is going to do. Run by Italian-American Michael D’Antonio, it’s a boutique shop that’s been selected to handle creative duties and event strategy for the new car launch. The Michigan-based agency has created the car’s slogan for America, “Life is best when driven.” (See above.)

According to MSNBC, Impatto and Fiat will use both traditional marketing channels and “alternative methods” for the introduction, including event-based “graffiti walls” being set up in key US markets; and social media. The alternatives sound like the same kinds of tactics used by BMW Mini and its first ad agency, Crispin Porter + Bogusky.

PS: Want to see the new FIAT in southeast Texas? Initially, Northside FIAT of Houston will get the first cars. The dealership will start off sharing space with Spring Chrysler Jeep Dodge at 21027 Interstate 45 North, exit 70A.

1 comment:

Joel Sabel said...

Thanks, but I had two already. "Double your pleasure, double your fun. Repairs were expensive, the mechanics were scum..."