Jun 27

Is Fiat too clever?

Written by: DJ | Filed under:Analysis, News | Tags:, , , ,
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The story of Fiat apologizing to China for its Richard Gere and Tibet themed ad for a new car was first reported on June 20. At that time, I quickly dismissed it as nothing but another blunder by the marketing department of a global company that should have known better. The ad itself wasn’t problematic per se. But it was clearly created with Richard Gere’s Tibet oriented activism in mind. Somebody should have foreseen that it would be perceived as provocative by some (or a lot) people.

So my first impression was quite similar to how Stan Abrams reacted in his China Hearsay blog.

Someone should get fired for this, and not because of the political overtones themselves. No, someone should be fired for incompetence. Through the whole vetting process for this ad, no one thought this was a bad idea? Really?

But interestingly, the story didn’t just die. I keep seeing reports of this matter in the English based media, perhaps because Fiat was also rather loudly insisting that the commercial would continue to air. “That’s odd,” I thought, “What’s the point for Fiat to apologize in the first place?”

Tim Johnson, in his China Rises blog, offerred an explanation.

Maybe it is a new corporate strategy. Mount an ad campaign. Anger Chinese. Capture lots of newspaper headlines. Issue an apology. Keep the ad campaign running anyway.

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