You've probably seen the television ad at this point, it's been on heavy rotation. Jennifer Lopez driving her new Fiat through the streets of the Bronx, revisiting childhood memories from where she came. She is "Jenny from the block" after all!
The brand is clearly targeting women, something fresh in the automotive category. That part makes a lot of sense, given that women control a huge portion of auto sales and have even greater purchase influence. The story line, however, apparently doesn't make as much sense ... the commercial has been getting a lot of buzz because J. Lo is a) driving herself in a tiny little car and b) then jumps through the sunroof and dances with the neighbors. A bit fantastical given her stature, and being criticized for being "inauthentic" on the blogs and social media. There is even accusations of a body double for some of the scenes. No one said that advertising had to match reality, but we do get to decide as consumers.
I truthfully didn't pay it that much attention -- it's another celebrity endorser for another consumer good. Not awfully newsworthy to me, and J. Lo doing marketing isn't really that special or unique in my book. Just saying.
But then I noticed how the brand ramped it up with a Special Edition by Gucci. Now that's pretty clever. Sort of like the Eddie Bauer edition of the Ford Explorer, two brands that made an interesting mash-up. This Fiat is a hyper-styled edition featuring Gucci accessorizing (Gucci and Fiat are both "famous" Italian brands which makes a lot of sense). Of course now J. Lo is driving (still by herself) to a glamous event in midtown Manhattan, shifting the car with the Gucci handle, dressed in J. Lo style. Pretty cool and a nice merging of brand equities IMHO (Fiat, J. Lo, and Gucci). The car is quite the looker, I have to say. Too bad J. Lo isn't Italian.
But then there's more! At the American Music Awards a couple of weeks ago, J. Lo took brand endorsement and product placement to a whole new level. She featured the Fiat on stage in basically a reenactment of the Bronx tv commercial. I have never personally seen that on an awards show! How on earth did they sell that in? Can you imagine the boardroom conversations over that one?! "And then we'll have the car pull in while the wide screen tv shows shots of the commercial ..." Holy marketing nirvana, although again much criticism in social media for the inauthentic nature of it all.
Regardless, it feels like a complete reinvention of the brand, with an intelligent attempt to target women. And very compelling marketing from an industry known for test drives and shots of cars driving along mountainous curves. I will say one thing ... don't know what Fiat paid Jennifer Lopez but they are getting their money's worth in terms of exposure. But does it come off "real" as J. Lo says, and will it convince people (women especially) to buy the car? Time will tell but initial sales don't seem to say so.
What's your experience? Jim.
President of Lippe Taylor
Author of The Experience Effect
PS - Get an early bird discount direct from the publisher on the e-book of the new "The Experience Effect for Small Business". Just type in "ExpEffectSmallBiz" at checkout here.