Jun 27

Is Fiat too clever?

Written by DJ on Friday, June 27th, 2008 at 7:03 am
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.

… So what does this show? Tibet sells in Europe. No matter how much Chinese officials claim that the Dalai Lama and Tibetan activists are part of a criminal clique, that image doesn’t ring true with European consumers. It’s a powerful image.

… I suspect that Tibet is a fairly “Teflon” issue for Richard Gere in the Western world. I doubt it hurts his image. It is a net positive, casting him out of the mold of a typical self-absorbed actor.

… Apparently it is the carmakers who are the shrewdest of all.

Wow, if this was truly Fiat’s plan and if it could have pulled it off masterfully, I would have to agree that the management at Fiat is among the shrewdest of all. But did everything go according to the play? I put Johnson’s description into a step by step plan below and examined the events accordingly. (The number 2 step is my insertion, which creates a plausible deniability and I believe is of vital importance to the success of this strategy. )

  1. Mount an ad campaign
  2. Play innocent
  3. Anger the Chinese
  4. Capture lots of newspaper headlines
  5. Issue an apology
  6. Keep the ad campaign running anyway

Immediately, I see two problems.

First, Fiat did not play innocent, at all. I mean, it couldn’t possibly be helpful to leak the plan to Reuters way ahead the airing of the ad, on June 4, could it? (The selection of the June 4 date to premier the ad, if intentional, was a brilliant subtle move though, as it surely would have made the government of China unhappy.)

As it has done with other models, Lancia will use a celebrity to promote it: Richard Gere. And the television spot in which the U.S. actor appears will likely further raise the brand’s profile, given the sensitive issue it addresses.

Second, where was the “anger the Chinese” part? Why didn’t Fiat wait for some heated indignation and boycott Fiat slogans to show up in Chinese Internet chat rooms and streets first? The first and only news report of that ad in China, before Fiat issued the apology, was from 和讯汽车, the automotive channel of a Chinese financial news network. The original article can be found here and was decidedly short on anger. Its title was “Tibet independence advocate Richard Gere in Fiat commercial with Tibet scenes”. And its strongest pronouncement on the ad was:

While there isn’t much special meaning to the commercial itself, the very presence of Richard Gere invokes some particular perceptions in the European viewers.

And the article even prominently included two press photos of the car. (You remember it is about a car, right?) Yet the Fiat PR department rushed into releasing the apology the next day. Perhaps they didn’t get the memo.

So what’s your take? Is it a case of shrewd planning marred by flawed execution, or merely a matter of incompetence?

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45 Responses to “Is Fiat too clever?”

  1. hotshotdebut Says:

    This kind of thing could happen. PR’s responsibility is to maintain the company’s reputation and image, but other departments such as commercial or marketing may pursue other objectives like maximizing the profit. Consider a bad cop/good cop scenario.

  2. FOARP Says:

    You can see the ad here:


    I find it rather preachy, and a somewhat nauseating continuation of the use of issues-driven advertising. What does Tibet have to do with selling cars?

    On a side note, I was at the huge Radiohead concert in Victoria Park in London a couple of days ago. A couple of Tibetan flags were drapped over the instruments, and reacting to this someone at the front of the crowd started a ‘Free Tibet’ chant. Thom Yorke joined in on the mic, but there was no great response from the crowd – at least not where I was standing. It’s one thing to argue about whether or not the Olympics have become politicised or not, but a rock concert is usually not a great venue for political debate – especially when only one man has a microphone.

    On the other hand, Radiohead do have a very strong anti-capitalist/globalisation message in their lyrics (one of their top albums is called ‘Hail To The Thief’) and I doubt that anybody in the crowd – including the Chinese, of whom there was a good number – would have been that surprised to find out their stance on Tibet. At any rate, by this stage the crowd were so mellowed out that no-one was all that bothered, and it was a totally kick-ass concert.

    Tell you what, why don’t I log onto Anti-CNN.com and try and start up a campaign to boycott Radiohead and stage counter-demonstrations at their concerts? Isn’t that a great idea?!?

    In fact, doesn’t Fiat have a huge joint venture with Nanjing Automotive? The word back in 2004 – two years after the start of operations – was that it was still only producing five cars a week.

  3. FOARP Says:

    Also – what’s with this ‘apologising to China’? I’ve never seen anyone ever talk about apologising to a whole country except when talking about China. Usually we say ‘apologised to _____ people who were offended’, but given the way that various spokesmen and women talk about ‘hurting the feelings of the Chinese people’ China somehow gets special treatment in this regard.

  4. chorasmian Says:


    The stance of Radiohead on Tibet isn’t quite surprising in China. Here is a statement made by the admin of a Radiohead fans forum regarding this issue (http://tieba.baidu.com/f?kz=365668919). Though I am not competent to be a good translator, I will try my best, and anyone find mistranslation in it is more than welcome to make correction. The following is the translation.

    1. Highlighting the post about Snowlion flag in RH official website doesn’t mean we support Tibet independence, nor try to fan the topic. I just want all fans know about it and give their own opinion. Free speech is gnome of this forum. There may be some opinions are unacceptable, but I believe none of us has ill intent. All of us are only giving different view with the same patriotic heart. Please show some understanding and respect to other opinion holders, agree?

    2. Regarding the Snowlion flag in their website, we feel very sorry and disappointed, but it is not only RH’s problem. Have a look at this post http://tieba.baidu.com/f?kz=364574697, you will find that it is not uncommon (in western entertainment industry). The westerns know very little about China and, as living in different culture, having different value system is not surprising. To RH, as a British band, ignorant or just following the crowd, whatever you say, after all they are not Chinese. We can’t judge them with Chinese value. Moreover, we all have the right to give our view, don’t we?

    3. Many of us insist music does not relate to politics, with which I personally agree. However, it is understandable that their political stance may upset some people. Consequently, I hope everyone can discus politics and music separately. Any different views are welcomed here except groundless criticizing or defending as it is meaningless, we should do it rationally. Additionally, don’t put the blame on RH fans, cause all we like is only their music, we do not supporting their political stance. I think it is time for us to take music away from politics, shall we?

    BTW, FOARP, you mentioned that no Chinese speak for Wang Jingwei in a comment weeks ago (I may be wrong as my memory doesn’t serve me well), I can tell you that I am one of the few Chinese who admire him.

  5. MutantJedi Says:

    The ad… I saw it from an entry in another blog. The buzz on this ad seems to be the controversy that never was.

    Sure, we see Gere driving to Tibet complete with boys in monk’s outfits. But Gere doesn’t speak. And just how different is he from handprints in concrete to handprints in snow. The journey seems to be a bit narcissistic. What’s the message to the market? If you’re over 50 and want to seem relevant then buy a car and fantasize about boys in red robes? Odd positioning.

    I think the timing and the apology was all part of the campaign. A bit of vicarious “power to be different” for the aging 50+ crowd. Buy the car, share in the controversy. Staged brilliantly. They got the glow of radicalism without the burn. Time will tell just how well it worked on the targeted demographic of 50+ upper-middle class men.

    I was kind of hoping that it would’ve just been ignored. But, since this blog didn’t ignore it and chose to participate in Fiat’s campaign, I’ll be a cog too and comment on it. If you think the ad was about Tibet selling in Europe you missed the point. The ad was about positioning the car as a way for the 50+ male to be relevant or different. He’s got the power, position, and money – but where does he fit in in this world? where’s that rebellion of youth? Buy the car that had enough juice that Fiat apologized. “The Power to be Different.”

    Brilliant. The ad guys must have peed themselves with glee when Sharon Stone ate her foot.

  6. Buxi Says:

    I think at least some in the Chinese media are on to Fiat’s plan.

    DJ, maybe you want to translate and add this to the article (did you find this first?):

    I don’t really know what Fiat is doing. It’s been promising large investment in China in recent years, but it’s presence is minimal… looking at numbers, 30,000 cars sold last year. I can only assume this is Fiat’s big “F* You” to the Chinese market, *hoping* to create a backlash amongst the Chinese community so that it will help Fiat’s brand in Europe. If I can use a slightly similar example… Wahaha (the company, not the poster on this board) has used nationalist feelings in its financial dispute with Dannon. So, maybe Fiat is now trying to do the same in reverse.

    Maybe the best thing the Chinese community can do is acknowledge Fiat’s actions, and then simply ignore it as the pathetic, uninformed actions of a third-rate Italian auto company.

    (FOARP, incidentally, how do other Europeans perceive Italy? Other than the great food, gelato, fashion sense, and good looking women, I mean… when I visited Italy a few years back, I was actually most struck by how “backwards” it seemed. I expected beautiful plazas surrounded by Ferrari’s, sort of like Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive but on a national level.

    We ran into other Chinese tourists on the trip, and that was the most common consensus: why can’t they build a proper road, get rid of some of the wild dogs, and pick up the trash? The chaos at the Vatican City made the Forbidden City seem like Disneyland.)


    Thank you for the great translation! As far as Wang Jingwei… at best, I can say I can understand why someone might make the choices that he made, but I will never go as far as saying I “admire” him. Do you want to talk about your reasons why? Might be an interesting topic.

  7. DJ Says:

    Hmm, that Hexun article must have come out right after I wrote this post. It’s a nice one too. I will translate it later, if time is available.

  8. FOARP Says:

    @Chorasmian – I believe I mentioned meeting someone in Nanjing who spoke up for Wang Jingwei, and I’m sure there are reasoned arguments that can be made for what he did – his wife’s speech on the matter is not unconvincing. Thank you very much for the link, it is strange to think that even a band like Radiohead can be regarded as ‘反华’, but I guess this just shows the tone of the discussion in China at that time.

    The discussions on the website were quite surprising, and yes, one of the people who was at Victoria Park was on the forum talking about the whole free Tibet thing and how it was the first time they had ever realised that Radiohead were ‘ZD’. The discussion on the origins of FCUK were pretty interesting as well.

    @Buxi – One of my grandfathers was an RAF mechanic during the war and served in Egypt, Libya and Italy, he never spoke much about it, but I still have the bayonet he took off an Italian soldier who surrendered to him – they surrendered in droves and almost never put up a good fight without help from the Germans. Basically, most of the rest of Europe sees the Italians as disorganised, lazy, argumentative, cheating, cowardly, and corrupt – and not entirely undeservedly. The main reason for this is:

    1) The Italian football team, who cheat and play the most boring football around.

    2) The Italian armed forces, who have not won a war unaided against serious opposition since Roman times.

    3) Italian politics, with its endless merry-go-round of corrupt, mafia-linked politicians.

    Of course, this is balanced out by the wonders of ancient Italian civilisation – even now there are many British children studying Latin in school, by the beauty of the Italian penninsula, by their cooking, by their lively culture, and by the friendly nature of the Italians I have come across – and by the gorgeousness of the Italian womenfolk.

  9. CLC Says:

    Speaking of Wang Jingwei, I remember one of my mentors told me that Wang laid out his arguments in a radio address, in which he basically said, 1) China could never win a war against Japan; 2) even if China could win, it would be the CCP reaping the fruit of victory. At least he was half right.

  10. yo Says:

    WOW, I would say that stereotype was more appropriate for the French:
    1. lazy => they work less and rely on their “socialist government” to do the work for them
    2. They are cowards => too easy…
    3. Rude => condescending, if it’s not french, we don’t care

    I was not aware of the Italian stereotype.

  11. yo Says:

    Here are my thoughts; The ad didn’t have much to it. I mean, for Richard Gere, IMO, his intentions are to promote the common mainstream mystification of Tibetan life, so I find it funny that the logo is “think different”. However, that in itself is not controversial at all. For me, it’s a non issue.

  12. FOARP Says:

    @Yo – In Europe the French have a bit of a rep. for protest and intransigence – pretty much only Americans see them that negatively. I should also mention that the country that gets the biggest heat across Europe most of the time is the UK.

  13. Buxi Says:


    Have you been to France? I was only there for about a week, but I actually had a very positive impression of the country, especially in contrast to Italy. (I’m not going to speak about the other stereotypes… I’ll let the Europeans handle that. 😛 Wish we had some Italians here to give us their thoughts on FOARP and his countrymen, just to balance things out.)

    Not only was France a beautiful country, I was mostly impressed how clean/organized it mostly seemed (at least in comparison to Italy), and how well Paris for example integrated modern usage with historical architecture. I was very envious of that point; Chinese cities aren’t even close to doing that… Paris has Napolean to thank for that. I’ve never been to Germany, but I hear it’s even more impressive on these levels.

    But even in France, I think I was still a little underwhelmed… I still expected more. I don’t know if travelers from other countries do this, but where-ever I go, I end up comparing it to my feelings on China. I thought the French subway system was, despite its scope, rather poorly operated; the poorer suburbs where primarily minorities lived were really sad, forgotten places… all in all, my reaction was still more or less one of: “that’s it?” Here, we also ran into numerous tourists directly from mainland China, and that was kind of the common reaction.

    From what I’ve heard, more Chinese are really looking to Japan as a model to be emulated these days. Despite decades of pervasive anti-Japanese hatred, I think many Chinese are increasingly, grudgingly impressed by how Japan is run and managed. I really hope to visit some day soon, so I can draw my own conclusions.

  14. TL Says:

    Chinese, at least some, should really learn how to desensitize themselves. With China’s increasing exposure in the world, Chinese’s indignation on any hint of “bias” would only serve as a great amusement to the west.

  15. yo Says:


    whoa whoa whoa, don’t shoot the messenger, I’m just saying that’s the stereotype in the states I didn’t say I subscribe to it 🙂

  16. Buxi Says:


    Haha, I didn’t mean to make it sound like I was snapping at you. I was honestly curious if you had been to France, and if you still held the stereotype. Trust me, I’m in no mood to defend France from its critics.

  17. OLDSON Says:

    @ DJ – the biggest problem with the 6 step cycle you mentioned (1 Mount an ad campaign, 2 Play innocent, etc) is that while it might get some limited press coverage for a product it does irreparable damage to the company’s long term relationship with the Chinese people. Chinese people have a very sensitive collective memory – if you have an open conversation with mainland Chinese people and mention certain countries, people & companies they will often express rather angry feelings about past events. Below are some examples based on personal experiences.

    America – somebody will immediately go off about how America always criticizes about China’s human rights, how the US dollar is unfairly pegged against RMB, the fact that the Americans purposely bombed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade and my favorite – the American spy plane that was shot down during the 80’s. (The pilot who shot down the plane was a patient of mine when I was studying TCM. He was quite proud of the fact that he took out an American plane.) I was often was screamed at by anti-American Chinese people when I told them I was American. If I lied and said that I was Canadian they would immediately smile and mention ‘Bai Qiu En’ (Dr. Norman Bethane) and how he was such a loyal friend to Mao and how all Canadians are wonderful.

    Japan – I realize that the icy relations are currently thawing (the first Japanese battle cruiser was allowed to dock to give relief supplies, China and Japan have come to an agreement about the China Sea Oil dispute, etc) but if you go anywhere near the NE China (where I lived) and you mention Japan or anything Japanese you will have to listen to an unending tirade of hate against anything Japanese (from cartoons to noodles). I realize that there were terrible things done by the Japanese soldiers during the war (my in laws were killed by them) but Chinese people will forever hate and will continue to fantasize about committing brutal genocide – and you will get all of this hate talk just because you mentioned the fact that your daughter likes ‘hello kitty.’

    ‘Ba Guo Lian Jun’ is another thing that is constantly reiterated – and how they destroyed and stole art work from Beijing before. Now if you mention France they will mention Carreforre and how the French have always been against China (which isn’t true of course).

    There are countless other recent examples with people (Steven Spielberg, Sharon Stone, etc) but what you need to keep in mind is that Chinese people can be rather over-sensitive and bitter about anything that doesn’t fall in their favor. Also consider the fact that a lot of Chinese business people still curse the companies that pulled out after the Tian An Men incident.

    Overall, I think that companies that purposely seek to stir up things with the Chinese are prejudiced and ignorant of China. In China people really value guanxi and face. China also places great emphasis on their non-interfering foreign policy. It would be wise for foreign countries to respect this.

  18. yo Says:

    lol yeah I know, hence the smiley face.

    I don’t know if you missed it in #15, but I don’t subscribe to those sentiments. No, I have never been to France.

  19. chorasmian Says:

    Why I admire Wang Jingwei? Basically, because of my personality, I don’t judge historic person/events on what he did, but on why he did. Wang Jingwie is treated as traitor because of being leader of the Nanjing government during Sino-Japan war. What’s his motivation?

    For power? In 1912, when ROC founded, he was 30 year old (而立之年) but left his career with the high ranking in KMT behind and go to France, claiming “不做官、不做议员、不嫖、不赌、不纳妾、不吸鸦片”. I don’t think he is one of the power seekers.

    For scaring of death? With his number 2 position in KMT administration since 1920s, he could have a comfortable life even 90% of Chinese population had been killed. Moreover, his well known poem “引刀成一快,不负少年头” clearly shows that he was not afraid of death.

    For glory? On the contrast, as a traditional Chinese scholar, he knew it well that he would be treated as a traitor after war, but still chose this way. Why he gave up his after death reputation which is the most important concern to traditional Chinese scholar? He has given the answer in a poem “城楼百尺倚空苍,雁背正低翔,满地萧萧落叶,黄花留住斜阳。阑干拍遍,心头块垒,眼底风光,为问青山绿水,能经几度兴亡?”

    Sorry for English readers, it is mission impossible to translate these Chinese poems to English, then I give up.

    @FOARP, the population and cultural diversity of Chinese is too big to have a united voice, especially on internet where everyone can shout out, it depends on which voice you want to hear.

  20. DJ Says:


    I am not sure if you read the post right. There wasn’t much outrage on this Fiat ad in China at all. All in all, the evidences strongly suggest that it was purely a manufactured and fake incident by Fiat. And if true, it was a rather nasty and inexcusable move by that company.

  21. DJ Says:


    I was also quite puzzled by the sequence of events in this case. If it turns out truly to be a manufactured event by Fiat, then yes, I expect a rather unpleasant long term effect for that company in China. But maybe it just doesn’t care since it is doing rather badly there and doesn’t expect much chance on the upside. So if the management can pump up the exposure on the currents products and raise revenues in the European market, they might just go for it, with all the bonuses and stuff for themselves if it could pan out. As for long term consequence in the Chinese market, why should they care. They would be long gone when the damage becomes evident.

  22. yo Says:

    Is the correct term called astro-turfing? ie creating fake buzz.

  23. Cissy Says:


    My first time visiting this site, found via Google news search. I summarized this blog and put it on youtube under the comments for Fiat Lancia commercial videos, also made the reference to this blog. Hope you don’t mind? Thanks for the analysis.

  24. raffiaflower Says:

    Actually it was Baron Haussman who is credited with the creation of the radiating system of grand boulevards and avenues of Paris, ostensibly for easier police control of restive crowds.
    Paris is wonderful: just think of coming out of the Concorde station, up to WH Smith, to browse the books, past the windows of Chanel at rue Cambon, to Fauchon at place de la Madeleine, l’Opera & you come to avenue Haussman named after him and the grands magasins.
    I went there without knowing a word of French for a year, but met only kind French people. Paris must have changed so much.
    My last trip, I popped into a McDonalds at the Place de la Republique. This is at the end of the rue de Denis. There was a group of mainland Chinese women in the store, just hanging around.
    It finally struck me what they represented. I felt a bit embarrassed, and sad. Perhaps this sort of thing gives a bad impression of China.
    I met some people from Dalian’s garment industry, once, and surprisingly they spoke openly, without rancour, of Japan’s former presence there,
    Shintaro Ishihara may not be fond of China, but I wonder if he should not be credited for Tokyo not falling off the rails despite the long recession.
    The standards of service and the pride that Japanese take in serving, are really non-pareil for a developed country. Needless to say, the quality and variety of goods (often made in China these days) presentation and display, and the safety and cleanliness of Tokyo itself, are in its own league.
    New York is incredibly cosmopolitan and energetic, but for Chinese generally, Tokyo is a better fit. I personally think China should support Tokyo for its 2016 Olympics bid. Chinese only have to avoid visiting Yasukuni.
    As for Italy, read Gavin Menzies new book 1434. Now he credits China for providing the impetus behind the Renaissance. Sounds a bit Ripley’s, this time around the curve….

  25. Buxi Says:


    Interesting. We probably shouldn’t have be having this discussing in a thread about Fiat…

    I disagree with you on one point, his views on glory. I don’t necessarily personal pride… but I do believe he wanted to leave a lasting impact on China. No matter how conflicted he might have felt about holding office, he didn’t have to return and actually hold office. And why would he have such a strong anti-Jiang position (when even the Communists were talking about working with him)… if all he wanted to do was serve the country?

    You say that he “knew” how he’d be seen after the war… and I think that’s wrong. I believe he gambled on the theory that peace-advocates in the Japanese government would work with him to end the war, and I believe he wanted to be the one seen to save China. But he was wrong, and in being wrong, I believe his actions hurt the Chinese war effort.

    Again, maybe if I were in his shoes, I might have made the same decision he made in 1938-1939. But by 1941, when it became obvious that Japan had no plans to stop the war and he was only their puppet, I hope I would’ve had the bravery to do something other than stay in the 总统府.

  26. Buxi Says:


    Much thanks in helping get the message out! Hope you’ll stay around and contribute as well.

  27. Buxi Says:


    I personally think China should support Tokyo for its 2016 Olympics bid.

    I’m okay with the idea, especially since I believe Ishihara will be attending the 2008 Olympics. But it’s hard to imagine that this is possible 8 years after Beijing.

    I personally believe the Olympics should go to more developing nations, not less.

  28. macastel Says:

    I am an Italian and want to reply to FOARP considerations about Italy and Italian people. It seems he is stuck to the 1960’s with old clichè of italy=mafia=spaghetti, etc. etc. It might still apply to some backward parts of southern Italy (on this I agree) but it is completely false for Northern part of Italy which makes up most of GDP’s.
    As for industry it is not only gelato, food and fashion. Perhaps he doen’t know the myriads of small-medium size companies in the mechanical sector that make up the backbone of italian economy. And for FIAT it is true that a few years ago it was really a third tier auto maker, but maybe he didn’t hear about the formidable turnaround of last 3 yrs? Also does he know about IVECO and Case New Holland are a big chunck of Fiat group profits?
    I suggest FOARP to go deeper into into details and not just write about clichès that we all know. Ah, and for football shall i remember you that England had finally to give all the managing team to Italians? perhaps you have a good chance to win world cup after 50 yrs without cheating (remember when u won WCup in englend…..?).

  29. macastel Says:

    For Buxi, you think that visiting Italy for 1 week on a bus can entitle you to talk about a country? It is true we are not Japan but to be honest with you never in my life I would like to live like a Japanese ! Actually i don’t think that this model adapts to Chinese. The Chinese frankly don’t look apt to adapt to the organizational level of Japan and really I don’t want to see China as a Japan. Also I dont want to offend you, but when you say you expected more from european capitals like Paris or you talk about Itlay not being organized, shall I remember you that it took your country 50 yrs to surpass Italy and France GDP but with 1.3 billion people (!?!). Dont forget we are only 56mil less than Shandong province……

  30. Max Says:

    Lol how many stereotypes I am reading here. Ignorance is a bad things. U know only pizza gelato and that stupid things because in ur school the important things are not taught. I’m with u for some things like the rubbish in Naples but the other stereotypes are old and u are still there, in the past, in the ignorance. And if the world champions are boring, well it is worst not to qualify in the european football competition

  31. FOARP Says:

    @Macastel – I was talking about cliches and stereotypes people have, and yeah, it totally sucks not to qualify, and we’re now hoping that Capello (an Italian manager) is going to turn it around for us.

  32. Nimrod Says:

    macastel, don’t take it personaly. It doesn’t mean Europe is bad, just means Buxi had a high expectation, and he has even been around places. Lots of Chinese people have the expectation of the Western world as heaven, not merely as an imperfect place in which imperfect people live. That is one of the “positive” stereotypes that I hope Chinese people drop ASAP.

  33. Max Says:

    1) The Italian football team, who cheat and play the most boring football around.

    2) The Italian armed forces, who have not won a war unaided against serious opposition since Roman times.

    3) Italian politics, with its endless merry-go-round of corrupt, mafia-linked politicians.

    1)the italian football team, who don’t cheat (corea) and play the most boring football is the world champion team. Not the first time of course but 4. (Brazil 5, Italy 4, Germany 3, England…? .)
    2) what’s about the first world war? I think u lack in culture mate.
    3) Here I agree with u. Not because of the mafia links. mafia is going to a dead fortunately, but because politics is the only dark side of italy

    I am Italian, I like to travel and to know different cultures. I really love England, but unfortunately I become “sad” when I read tons of stereotypes by certains people. It’s not always right what u think.

  34. Oli Says:

    This is Europe: An Exaggeration

    The English hates the French and the Germans (I’m ignoring the Welsh, the Scots and the Irish here)

    The French hates all Anglo-Saxons and the Germans

    The Spanish hates the English (Gibraltar and British holidaymakers and pensioners)

    The Poles hate the Germans and the Russians

    The Fins hate the Russians too

    The Swedes don’t like the Norwegians

    The Norwegians don’t like the Swedes

    The Greeks hate the Turks and the Macedonians

    The Turks hate the Greeks

    The Flemish and the Walloonians (the peoples of Belgium) are not sure who they like less, its either the French, the Dutch or each other

    The Dutch don’t like the Germans

    The Austrains love and hate the Germans

    The Swiss don’t care because they are neutral and only loves money

    The Italians don’t care because they suffer from narcissism

    And the Germans don’t dare to hate anybody in Europe, because then everybody will just mention THE WAR!

    And the rest or Europe simply dosen’t matter.

  35. Max Says:

    “The Italians don’t care because they suffer from narcissism”

    erm…..not the Italians but the French with their “grandeur” 😉

  36. Oli Says:

    Hi Max, welcome to the blog

    “erm…..not the Italians but the French with their “grandeur” ”

    OK, well there you go then, I suppose I forgot to mention that the Italians don’t like the French either.

    Maybe I’m wrong, but maybe it has something to do with Napoleon (either I, II or III not sure which or maybe all of them), Garibaldi and the House of Lombard etc. 🙂

  37. Oli Says:

    Oh and the Russians just hate all of Europe (Napoleon, Kaiser Wilhelm, Hitler, NATO take your pick)

  38. Max Says:


    Well nothing about Napoleone (born on 15 August 1769 ), we can say he was italian, because he was born in Corse (Italian territory up to 9 may 1769) so with an italian culture.
    what’s about Garibaldi? he was italian and he united the peninsula.
    I think the things are more recent, like the football and theyr grandeur. They are so snob ecc…too much nationalist, chauvinist. and yes because they have the Italian Monnalisa( la gioconda) picture lol.

  39. FOARP Says:

    @Max – The Italians fought alongside the rest of the allied nations during WWI, and British and French divisions ended up having to go to Italy after the Italian defeat at Caporeto.

    England, of course, have only won the world cup once, but we have never engaged in the kind of negative defensive play that Italy engage in. I am a Liverpool fan.

    However, I can buy politics as the only dark side of Italy. However, i have to say, I was at an IP piracy conference a couple of months ago and the people there were all talking about the mafia as one of the main players in EU piracy – but miles behind the Chinese.

    Hey, I don’t hate the Italians at all, I would love to visit there – and you are quite right to point out that most of Europe has pretty negative opinions about the rest, but we somehow manage to live in peace together.

  40. Buxi Says:

    LOL, interesting to see this discussion break out here, and thanks to our Italian visitors.

    You’re, it’s unfair of me to suggest any kind of “conclusion” about Italy based on a one week visit. I don’t know the history, society, or politics, so I’m not going to make any predictions. And there are certainly many beautiful things in Italy, and I enjoyed myself very much. But as someone else said, I (like many other Chinese) have very high expectations when it comes to the western world… perhaps unrealistic expectations.

    I can only hope that the rest of the world has such unrealistic expectations of China, one day.

  41. Max Says:

    well we won many battles,with many victims of course, and Caporetto was a lost battle.then there has been the final battle (by italians, not english or french) on 23 october won by Italians. The important is to win the war not the battles, and we have won the war on november 29. On 3 november Austria and Germany signed the armistice in Padova.

    Anyway I hate the war in general so I’m not rly proud about that.

    This year the italian football team was not ok, so I have not difficulty on saying that we have deserved to go out. We have played like a village team.

    about mafia…well u are clever, I hope u understand that Italians hate mafia. Mafia is composed by a certain number of people and stop (the thereothype is all italian are mafious I think) We all know that mafia (who is concentrated just in the south of italy) is a very bad thing and we all hope that it could have a stop as soon as possible. I just can say we are going in the right way.
    I think that fortunately we live in peace in Europe , and it is great when we can compare our opinion with others respecting at the same time different point of wiew.

    Anyway u are lucky mate you’ve certainly seen Top gear tonight. i will see it tomorrow in u tube lol 🙂

  42. FOARP Says:

    @Max – Unfortunately Top Gear was on at the same time as the final (where I was supporting Spain, of course) – so I’ll be watching it on doadload also!

  43. Max Says:

    oww ok lol, I was supporting Spain too. I can’t spam here but if u are a top gear fan u can search the “Jeremy clarkson fan page” myspace. lol lol lol I’m crazy about it, I love it 🙂

  44. Antonio Napoli Says:

    Hallo Everybody,

    I have to say that I feel outraged to see that exist still people like FOARP who has such puerile prejudices.
    I don’t know where you are from, but nevertheless I have to tell you that are there only few countries on this earth with a strong and important past as Italy had, and is not only about the Roman empire.
    The whole peninsula had a great and glorious history.
    The last decades cannot obscure it, and you are not allow to offend a nation, it does not matter which is. Moreover you statements are so poor…

    You talk about football…is it something so important? By the way Italy won four times
    the world cup without cheating any one (actually Italy has suffered it)…Did your country did the same? And what about technology? Did your country ever express something at the same level of Ferrari? Let me it know, because I am curious.
    You talk about army…is it the most important thing of a nation?
    I thought that scientists, musicians, artists, mathematicians, etc. etc were much more important…
    By the way the history of Italy is full of brave and amazing generals…I don’t know if you have ever heard of Eugenio di Savoia…search in Internet and try to understand why he deserved to get the Belvedere in Vienna as a gift…it may be that you learn something new…
    But how can you talk like that? The western society has been shaped and it is based on the Roman Empire??? I remind you that Rome is in Italy.
    OK, let’s forget the Romans, and what about Macchiavelli, and Giotto, and Michelangelo and Giordano Bruno, and Marconi, and Fermi? I hope you have already heard about them. And what about your language (only in case you are English)? English contains 60-65% of Latin words (according to Oxford and Cambridge dictionaries)…have you ever noticed it?

    Than you reached the top of the offences with the last point about mafia…
    I really hope you are not English or an US guy…because Italian mafia cannot organize wars and kill hundreds of thousands of persons around the world as the English or the US governments did in the last 3-4 centuries…
    If you take any book (take Britannica encyclopedia for example) and look for the word Mafia, you will notice that Mafia is characterized by some common aspects.
    Thus try to think how the western governments behave (the US and the English in particular)…and you will end up that they have a lot of things in common with mafia…
    I give you an example: in the mafia organization if someone decides to become a repentant criminal, what does it happen to him? He is immediately killed.
    Well, there were about 65 witnesses for trial concerning the assasination of John Kennedy set by Judge Jim Garrison…45 have been killed before they could testify…do you notice any similarity? I hope you know that JFK was killed by a plot and one of the reason was to go further with the Vietnam war since the US weapon corporation wanted/need this…you can easily search who is financing whom during the US elections…and you will see that such corporations did not almost finance JFK and they definitely did not finance his brother Robert (who was also brutally assassinated)…

    I hope that this explanation give you the opportunity to open your eyes…and clean your mind by infantile prejudices..

    your sincerely
    Antonio Napoli


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