"Imports" from Detroit and endorsements from Eminem are great and all, but the all-American game Chrysler's playing with its football ads isn't going to do a thing to sell tiny Fiat 500s.
Chrysler sales were up 26% in 2011 as the company emerged from bankruptcy, retooled its lines and discarded what wasn't working. Unfortunately, Fiat sales slid below expectations as the Fiat 500 managed to outsell only the dying Dodge Dakota, Chrysler Sebring and Jeep Commander.
We'll admit this is a bit of a tall order at this stage. Fiat's offering exactly one car and at very few dealerships in the U.S. compared with Chrysler, Dodge, Ram and Jeep. However, Fiat for some reason uncorked its Fiat 500 ad featuring J-Lo last fall instead of waiting for a more high-powered, high-profile Super Bowl ad in January.We're not sure what kind of demographic game Fiat is trying to play with its ad strategy, but 111 million Americans watched the Super Bowl last year. You can't ask for a bigger audience than Chrysler got for its own spots. If Fiat wants to get serious and remind everyone of its more than 58% stake in Chrysler, it needs to start taking its Super Bowl ad time a lot more seriously. Audi, Cadillac, Chevy, Honda, Hyundai/Kia, Toyota (TM) and Volkswagen are all going to be making appearances during the Super Bowl this year and throwing their own cute cars and luxury offerings into the mix. Last year, car companies alone spent $77.5 million on Super Bowl ads, a big boost from the previous high of $29.7 million in 2010 and a dramatic increase from just $8.8 million in 2002. If Fiat wants to bury "Fix It Again Tony" once and for all and put its vehicle in the same league as the Mini, Ford's (F) Fiesta, Chevy's Sonic, Toyota's reworked Yaris or any of the other mighty-mite vehicles out there, it has to start taking chances. Even if that means revealing the Italian behind the Chrysler's red-while-and-blue curtain.