Monday, December 20, 2010

Will Emotion-Driven Ads Fuel FiatUSA Sales?

Don't let me keep you in suspense: IMHO, FiatUSA's new emotion-driven ads are not going to take it as far as the company would like.

Launching "feel good" ads (four artsy, full-color pages in the New York Times Sunday edition, for example) while the economy is still struggling seems like too much of an indirect approach for our times.

Yes, the ads are laser-sharp targeted at urban hipsters in selected metro areas. Yes, the car's Italian heritage and styling are appealing to the target market. The Fiat 500 definitely has the compact, stylish look that younger drivers, in particular, often crave (squint, and you might have a momentary vision of the Mini-Cooper crossed with a VW Bug). The new Fiat may even have good gas mileage (who knows? nothing in the ads tells us), another consideration for many buyers. 

Even with great targeting, a good product needs good communication to reach its audience. And that's where I believe that FiatUSA could improve. The ads are designed to reintroduce the brand to US buyers after a long absence. But the campaign kicks off during the holiday season, when noise from competing and non-competing ads are a big problem. And the tagline "Life is best when driven" doesn't tell buyers anything about Fiat, let alone offer a compelling reason to buy.

Give me something to think or feel about Fiat and the Fiat 500, please.

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