Market Research Helps Fiat Be Absolutely True to Their Brand

Fiat and Chrysler Team Up to Show How Commercials Are Made

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Fiat wants consumers to see the expanded capacity of the Fiat 500X. Consumers remember what makes them laugh. Courtesy Fiat | Little Blue Pill Ad

Fiat Chrysler Automotive (FCA) keeps the details of their Super Bowl ads secret.  In doing so, the car company presents an image of producing extraordinary commercials without much ado.  This is entirely in keeping with the definition of Fiat.

Merriam-Webster:  noun fi·at:  a command or act of will that creates something without or as if without further effort

Origin of FIAT - Latin, let it be done, 3d singular present subjunctive of fieri to become, be done.  First Known Use: circa 1631

Other companies that run Super Bowl ads conduct aggressive media campaigns with teaser ads, and sometimes even releases that show the full commercial as a promotion tactic.  But FCA has said that even though they have purchased air time in the Super Bowl SLIX, they could still sell that time.  If they wanted to: if they felt like it.  And so the tease becomes the wait to see what FCA will do, rather than a reliance on teaser ads.  Kantar Media's chief research officer, Jon Swallen, views that as a risky road to frequent:

To pull that off, you have to have very good, compelling creative…but if it is a really strong, powerful ad, it will stand out even more

Indeed, the closed-door, no advance promotion practiced by FCA works really well. The company's disciplined silence before each Super Bowl attracts tons of media attention as advertising firms hazard guesses about the tack the company will take:  Will the Super Bowl commercial be an addition to a popular series of ads, or will it be a totally new concept?

Professor of business and marketing, Michael Bernacchi, at the University of Detroit Mercy, admires the FCA approach:

They have created a niche for themselves like no other company. They have America looking to see if they are going to be there. Are you kidding me?

The commercials that FCA produces have consistently been top-rated ads in the Super Bowl slots during the past several years.

The ads have been so powerful that they have helped to transform the Chrysler as a bankrupt, downtrodden, and hapless, automaker.  The public now perceives Chrysler as a gritty survivor that has a 5-year streak of gains in consecutive monthly sales in the United States.  FCA's clear gain in U.S. automotive industry market share is neatly associated with the uncanny ability of the automaker to churn out exceptionally entertaining commercials

 

Oliver Francois, the FCA US marketing officer, remarked:

We will be part of it as long as we have something to say and something to say which is truthful to who we are and the FCA culture of doing things with a purpose and differently. 

And it appears that FCA has much to say that is about who they truthfully are.  Three commercials were aired during the recent Super Bowl XLIX, with the first spot in the second quarter and the other two spots taking place in the third quarter.  The cost of this paid media ad time is estimated to cost several million dollars.  Indeed, a 30-second spot in the Super Bowl can cost as much as $4.5 million. Consider that most of FCA's commercials have been two-minutes long, and that they have featured A-list celebrities such as Clint Eastwood, Eminem, Oprah Winfrey, and - oddly - the voice of Paul Harvey.

 Since 2010, FCA spent an estimated $89.5 million on commercials that run during the Super Bowl.  Reportedly, Anheuser-Busch spent more to produce and air commercials during the same period of time.  

Let's close here with a favorite commercial for Fiat Abarth. In case you are wondering - as everyone does - who the woman is: Catrinel Menghia, a Romanian model now living in New York City. 

To get a better feel for why Chrysler's commercials attract so many viewers, take a tour of these great ads:

2011 - "Born of Fire."

2012 - "It's Halftime in America."

2013 - "Farmer," and "Whole Again."

2014 - "American's Import," "Restlessness," and "Strike."

2015 - "Blue Pill." 

Sources:

Fiat USA. (2012, July 16).  FIAT Backstage: Behind the Scenes – Immigrants: The new Fiat 500 commercial. 

Snavely, B. (2015, January 30).  Fiat Chrysler confirms three ads for Super Bowl XLIX.  Detroit Free Press.