Whether it was the subject or the star, things fell unusually silent on the floor of the Geneva Motor Show, this week when Fiat presented the much-discussed “Halftime in America” commercial, featuring Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood.
The spot, produced by Fiat’s U.S. partner, Chrysler, helped open the Italian maker’s news conference – spotlighting not only the role of good advertising and the power of television – but also the way marketing has gone viral. Though it may match the audience of the Super Bowl, where the Halftime spot first aired, the commercial has now been see by over 20 million people online, noted Olivier Francois, who serves as both CEO of Fiat and Chrysler’s marketing chief.
In its bid to rebuild after a 2009 bankruptcy, the Fiat/Chrysler partners are putting a heavy emphasis on social media, chalking up some big scores as more and more potential buyers “friend” their various brands and check out ads, like Halftime, online that they might otherwise miss.
The Jeep brand’s facebook page, for example, already had generated more than 2 million friends on Facebook, more than any other brand, company officials boast.
Meanwhile, Chrysler’s “It’s Halftime in America” video placed second place overall in the annual contest sponsored by Youtube and Ad Blitz.
“We are humbled and honored that the voters named Chrysler Group as the top auto and second-place winner in YouTube’s Ad Blitz 2012 contest,” said Francois, Chrysler’s chief marketing officer.
“Halftime in America” was created in partnership with the Portland, Ore.-based advertising agency, Wieden&Kennedy. The video can be viewed at the Chrysler brand YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/chrysler.
“‘It’s Halftime in America’ is about a mission, not about a product. It is about the spirit that motivates our embrace of this mission,” said Sergio Marchionne, chairman and chief executive officer, Chrysler Group LLC.
Turning to social media has proven especially important to the Fiat brand, which last year returned to the U.S. market after a two decade absence. Perhaps the single biggest challenge the Italian brand has faced, according to its U.S. chief, Tim Kuniskis, has been building awareness. And along with Fiat’s recent foray into television, it is putting much of its marketing effort into the use of social media.
The Fiat brand saw a sharp increase in its website traffic after airing its “Seduction” ad during the third quarter of Super Bowl XLVI. The ad, starring supermodel Catrinel Menghia, helped launch the automaker’s new Fiat 500 Abarth model. It was quickly followed by “House Arrest,” a commercial featuring both Menghia and Hollywood bad boy Charlie Sheen.
Fiat generated more than 8 million visits to its web site in the days after the Super Bowl spot aired and has continued generating more interest since then. The next challenge, according to Kuniskis, is to turn that traffic into sales.
(For more on Fiat’s marketing and product strategy, Click Here.)
(For a first look at the new Fiat 500L, Click Here.)
The Chrysler Group is utilizing the Internet and social media to reach both young, high-tech buyers who might be drawn to a hip brand like Fiat, as well as more classic muscle car customers interested in its Street and Racing Technology unit, otherwise known as SRT.
A thoroughly revamped driveSRT.com website recently went live and is being used to show off the vehicles designed and built by the Chrysler Group’s in-house performance division. The driveSRT.com web site guides visitors into the engineering labs, design studios and the factory floors for a closer look at the processes used during the vehicle development process.
“We’re excited to bring the newly redesigned driveSRT.com to life,” said Ralph Gilles, the SRT president. “The new site not only offers more exclusive content but it also provides unique ways to connect and stay connected with many enthusiasts groups that we’re building the new SRT brand around,” he added.
Besides SRT vehicle information, driveSRT.com enables visitors to connect with owners and fans in real time through direct feeds to SRT on Facebook: facebook.com/driveSRT, Twitter: @driveSRT, YouTube: youtube.com/driveSRT and Flickr: flickr.com/driveSRT.
Brand news, as well as motorsports, consumer events and community stories are frequently updated to give visitors regular doses of fresh content. Site visitors also can expect owner profiles and information on SRT clubs nationwide.
Perhaps the biggest single success story in Chrysler’s online strategy comes from the Jeep division, which recently passed a major milestone as its Facebook page now has a total of 2 million fans. It was the first domestic automotive brand to hit that mark on Facebook.
“On behalf of the entire Jeep brand team, I would like to extend a personal thank you to our consumers — and literally millions of fans — for their continued loyalty and support,” said Mike Manley, President
and CEO – Jeep Brand, Chrysler Group LLC.
Paul A. Eisenstein contributed to this report.
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