Oct 13 2011
Basis Team

How Digital Inclusion Can Rock an Auto Television Ad


Question: What do you get when you mix People Magazine’s Most Beautiful Woman (JLO), a luxurious, yet simple Italian car, catchy party music, a flash mob of crazed and smitten men and four simple, sticky lines?

Answer: A sexy, comical and memorable FIAT 500 television advertisement that continues to influence viewers beyond a brief 47-second TV spot.

Here’s why:

This commercial tells a humorous, upbeat and relevant story that catches the audience’s attention. First, it doesn’t hurt to have an extremely well-known and highly talked about celebrity who is the lead character, vocalist and dancer. Second, the advertisement leaves the audience with a very witty message that translates into a subtle yet direct call to action.

Like the car? Go online.

Like JLO? Get in line.

This clever message brings two incredibly powerful media channels—TV and digital—together to push the audience to learn more. The TV commercial acts as a brand awareness vehicle that leads the audience into the consideration stage by encouraging them to go online. This commercial is a great example of how these two media powerhouses are better together than using TV alone. Without the online call to action, the audience is left with a cool TV commercial that generates awareness. With the online call to action, the audience experiences a cool TV commercial that drives them to find more of the excitement online, while also creating a stronger consumer connection. For example, when I searched “Fiat” within YouTube, I was presented with eye-catching Fiat-sponsored results:

Not only do these channels work well together but they are often used together simultaneously. According to another Nielsen study:

Today Americans are using TV and internet together 35% more than a year ago.

Nearly 60% of TV viewers now use the Internet while also watching TV (on a monthly basis).

With PCs, smartphones, iPads, and e-readers, our society is taking in content through various forms and becoming skilled at multitasking; this further validates the need for advertisers to understand how to use each medium to its full potential to help tell a powerful brand story. Different advertising channels represent different consumer touch points. By adding digital campaigns to an advertisers’ media mix, advertisers can build strong connections with consumers in their everyday lives.

The FIAT 500 commercial says it all: “Go online.” Simply put, go online and maximize performance. While FIAT pulled TV and online together, the automobile company did not follow through with a large online presence. It needed to strengthen the campaign, reinforce the brand message and reach a broader online audience.

As a viewer, I felt more like I was hunting for something rather than having the auto advertiser guide me to a desired destination. While hunting, I came across their “build my own” page; this would be a great page to direct viewers. It allows users to create their own FIAT which offers a personal, fun experience that can lead to a deeper consideration state. Additionally, the brand story could have been more prominent online as well; it was completely lost.

While this campaign has been highly scrutinized in the press, particularly for its creative, the advertiser is moving in the right direction albeit with some modifications. Again, one of the main issues of this campaign was that it was largely served as an awareness campaign; it left the audience hanging rather than providing a consistent and fluid online path to action.

What are your thoughts on this campaign? Have you seen other types of traditional advertisements that incorporate digital elements? If so, please share them with us.