Fiat rolls out national ads for 500
Dealers say lack of awareness has hurt floor traffic
CHELSEA, Mich. -- Fiat, which has taken a go-slow approach with its North American launch, will pick up the pace with a national ad campaign.
At the center of the campaign will be events on July 4, the 54th anniversary of the original Fiat 500, said Laura Soave, head of the Fiat brand in North America.
"We're confident we can do a national launch and have the network in place to support the traffic," Soave said last week at a media event here.
The first new Fiat 500s were sold in the United States in March. Some dealers have said the lack of national advertising has hurt floor traffic.
But Fiat delayed a campaign until more dealers were open. As of last week, Fiat had 70 U.S. dealers operating. That's more than half the 130 planned by year end.
Soave declined to give specifics about the campaign or say whether it would include TV spots.
Fiat also said last week it is appointing a digital advertising agency -- 72andSunny of Santa Monica, Calif.
Fiat recently beefed up regional advertising support for dealers. The company is providing print ads and radio and TV spots that can be tailored to individual markets.
One of the print pieces shows the car with the slogan "Living Big Never Cost So Little." Another shows the original Fiat 500 facing a new one with the slogan, "Same spirit, new expression."
The new advertising was produced by Impatto Custom Marketing, Fiat's ad agency, of suburban Detroit.
Fiat has been behind schedule in opening its U.S. dealer network. CEO Sergio Marchionne has said the company underestimated the time needed for dealers to get building plans approved by local zoning authorities.
The date of the national campaign, July 4, is the most significant in Fiat 500 history. The original 500 was introduced July 4, 1957, in Italy, and the current version arrived July 4, 2007. The original 500, which provided a basic car to the masses, is a cultural icon in Italy.
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