New Fiat Ad: Exported From Naples

While Chrysler Pushes Detroit in U.S., Fiat's Panda Touts Naples

By Published on .

Vixens in tight black skirts and Jennifer Lopez dancing her way through the Bronx; juxtapose those images with close-ups of jobless young people in one of Italy's most economically depressed cities, Naples.

It's an intriguing melange of messages from the global marketing forces at Fiat.

A 90-second TV ad, now being broadcast only in Italy (and in Italian, but with English subtitles) to promote Fiat's new compact, Panda, is an inward-looking spot that may seem out of character for the company. But it seems that Fiat isn't intent just on saving Detroit with its two-minute Super Bowl homage to Motor City but also on giving Naples a boost.

Filmed in the Pomigliano district of the port city, where Fiat built a high-tech factory for the Panda, the ad takes its tone from the economic crisis in Italy and many other Western European countries, which is a pressing concern for the company.

"If we don't reacquire the confidence of financial markets, the future of Europe is doubtful," Chrysler/Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne told reporters at the recent North American Internal Auto Show in Detroit. "We need to get serious, really serious."

The commercial features factory workers, interspersed with shots of the neighborhood, idle youths, a drive-by of piazzas and nearby Vesuvius, and the obligatory expresso on the stove. "We can choose which Italy we want to be," says the voice-over. "Now is the time to decide ... whether to be ourselves or to accept the views imposed on us."

Near the end of the spot, created by Kube Libre, Milan, comes the tagline: "The things we make, make us."

The commercial was created under the direction of Olivier Francois, Fiat's global marketing manager and head of marketing for Chrysler/Fiat in the U.S.

"The new Panda is a symbol of Fiat's know-how in the city-car segment," Mr. Francois said. "The upgraded plant in Pomigliano has introduced a radical new approach to quality, and the campaign tells the story of this special place, a place where the relaunch of an Italy that the entire world believes in has begun."

Anyone surprised at the spot's serious tenor should recall that in his previous job running Fiat's Lancia brand overseas, Mr. Francois orchestrated ads that featured former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Nobel laureate Aung Suu Kvi, and France's first lady, Carla Bruni.

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