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Brands, Not Cars, Key Contends Fiat/Chrysler Exec

Have we heard this song before?

by on Mar.15, 2012

Fiat global brand chief Olivier Francois during the launch of the new 500L.

The idea that a car sells the brand doesn’t apply in the expansive world of Olivier Francois, Chrysler/Fiat’s chief marketing officer.

It’s the brand and its message that ultimately sells the car, Francois told the Automotive Press Association in Detroit. A lot of companies use cars to sell the brand but Francois has deliberately reversed the equation.

“The brand had better stand for something,” explained the French-born executive, noting he uses the exact same formula in Europe where he is in charge of the Fiat and Lancia marques.

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Francois also stressed that timing is critical. Chrysler’s celebrated Eminem ad, which was shown during the Super Bowl in February,2011, would not have worked a year earlier because there wasn’t any solid evidence yet of a Chrysler comeback. A year later it would have been considered “old news,” he added.


Fiat 500 America: Not for America

Red, white and European.

by on Mar.08, 2012

America, America...? Fiat's starts-and-stripes edition will be limited to the European market.

Want to show your colors?  Fiat is waving the flag, but there’s just one catch: the red, white and blue Fiat 500 America edition won’t be sold in the U.S.

The Italian maker apparently wants to make the rest of the world, especially buyers in its home base of Europe, well aware that it’s returned to the States for the first time in two decades with the popular model folks on the Continent know as the Cinquecento.

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To introduce the 500 America, the maker opened its Geneva Motor Show news conference with the widely watched, albeit controversial, Clint Eastwood ad that first aired during this year’s Super Bowl. Considering Europe’s worsening financial situation, the message of the 2-minute spot, dubbed “Halftime in America,” was clearly not lost on the crowd.


Fiat Pulls Cover off Stretched 500L

Is longer really better?

by on Mar.06, 2012

The new 500L is about 2 feet -- and 2 doors -- longer than the original Fiat 500.

“Bigger is better,” or so goes the classic American mantra, something that led to the gigantosauruses that once ruled U.S. highways.  Fiat, on the other hand, was one of a growing number of makers that opted for the idea that small is beautiful.

Or so it seemed with last year’s launch of the pint-sized Fiat 500.  The little Cinquecento has been going momentum in recent months, after a dreadful launch, but it’s probably no surprised that as they rewrite the brand strategy Fiat officials are also wondering whether bigger – at least a little bit bigger, anyway – might indeed be better.


They’ll soon find out, thanks to the Fiat 500L, the stretched version of the minicar that’s now on display at the Geneva Motor Show.  The stretch model adds “practicality and substance,” declared the Italian maker’s global brand chief Olivier Francois – which translates into two more doors and an extra two feet, nose-to-tail.