Okay, I’m not someone who enjoys kicking a dead dog, but when the “dog” in question is a marketing disaster I’m willing to make an exception. The recent TV spots featuring Jennifer Lopez as the spokesperson for the Fiat 500 minicar is a confirmed fatality. Granted, an autopsy has yet to be performed, but sales that fail to reach 50% of projection and resulted in the firing of the head of Chrysler’s Fiat brand are the equivalent of a flatline.
Where did they go wrong? Where didn’t they? The original campaign tried to position the ultra-tiny, three-door coupe as something, “so powerful in concept, so revolutionary in design, it becomes a cultural icon and defines a generation.” That’s a bold statement for a car with a base price around 15 thousand bucks and not designed by Steve Jobs.
They followed that failed hyperbole with JLo tooling through the South Bronx in “her” Fiat 500 while describing how, “this is my world,” and how, “this place inspires me.” Well, I grew up in the South Bronx, too, and it just inspired me to get out. The same appears to be true for Ms. Lopez, since it turns out that her close-ups were shot in LA and a body double filled in for her on the mean streets.
Along the same vein, the spot opens with a shot of the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, but the car is then shown driving out of Manhattan over the lesser-known Queensboro Bridge (bridge double?). Neither one goes to the Bronx (borough double?). Adding to the fun, the spot used a copyrighted wall mural as a backdrop, and Chrysler had to settle a lawsuit brought by the artist.
What possible car-buying demographic are these ads supposed to target? My guess is the thinking never went that deep. The JLo spots were obviously intended to resonate with the gritty “Detroit pride” ads Chrysler is running for their 200 and 300 sedans. Those work because the ads speak to the toughness and resurgence of the Motor City. Does this translate to a small car designed in Italy, built in Toluca, Mexico, and “driven” by a pop-music star through the Bronx? What do you think?
BOB MATTSON IS THE CO-FOUNDING PARTNER, EXECUTIVE CREATIVE DIRECTOR AND SENIOR COPYWRITER AT SMM ADVERTISING.
In the interest of total disclosure, I despise Jennifer Lopez. Forgetting her vast shortcomings as a singer, actress and dancer, I simply can’t wrap my head around the fact that she is a minority owner of my beloved Miami Dolphins. Jen, boobalah, if you’re that desperate for a hobby, try stamp collecting or slot car racing, and leave my ‘Phins alone.
Now, where to begin on this Fiat 500 debacle? I cringed the first time I saw this spot on the air, and not just because the car looked like a bling’ed-out roller skate. I cringed because it wreaked of insincerity—there’s no way I’m buyin’ that JLo has ever once tooled down swanky Ocean Drive in Miami (where she actually lives), much less the mean streets of the South Bronx with the drop-top down, blasting her cruddy new single, Papi, in a $15,500 subcompact. I’ve driven through the South Bronx, and every time I do I recall the scene from Vacation in which Chev, Bev and the kids are cruising through the ‘hood rolling up their windows serenaded by a mélange of gunfire and screaming.
Turns out it’s even more insincere than I thought, with JLo so disconnected from “Her World” that she shot her scenes on a sound stage in Los Angeles. Insulting, really. At least when Derek Jeter pretends to drive his Ford Edge through the streets of New York, I don’t question his connection to the city.
DAVE ROGAN IS A DOLPHIN ROOTING CREATIVE DIRECTOR AT SMM AND, TO THIS DAY, STILL PICKS DAN MARINO IN THE FIRST ROUND OF EVERY FANTASY FOOTBALL DRAFT EVEN THOUGH DAN HASN’T LACED ‘EM UP SINCE 1999.
Jennifer had this to say about one of her new signature perfume lines: “The smell of a baby’s head intrigues me right now…but no babies went into that bottle. None!” Which, were there a contest of the sort, would certainly register in the Top 5 of dumbest things ever said.
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