afaqs!

Fiat Linea creates a line of admirers

By Savia Jane Pinto , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | February 04, 2009
Fiat launches its latest sedan by making a statement quite different from what the category usually says

Fiat has wheeled into the sedan category with the Linea. The commercials are on television currently and striking a chord with many people.

Linea is Fiat's first sedan following a re-launch of Fiat; Siena and Petra were the sedans that Fiat had launched earlier. Tarun Khanna, head, marketing, Fiat India Automobiles, tells afaqs! that consumer research was conducted in Delhi and Mumbai, which revealed certain points. "The key points that surfaced from the research were that the car looked distinctive and premium - and it gave a sense of design and style," says Khanna.

The television commercial opens & #BANNER1 & # on a father-son duo walking on a side walk. The little boy halts every other minute to gape at window merchandise. The father pulls the boy away each time. At the last shop, it is the father who stops in his steps and looks on with awe at a Fiat showroom. The object of his fascination is the Fiat Linea. This time, it is the exasperated child who extricates his father, who is drooling over the car.

The ad ends with a voiceover that says, "The new Fiat Linea. Admiration Guaranteed'. The ad is supported by a background score, 'I'm stuck at the sight of you'. The ad film has been shot in Istanbul by Prasoon Pandey of Corcoise Films.

Following the findings of the research, style was chosen as the hook on which the creative thought would be based. "Fiat Linea's distinctive Italian styling and looks stand out," says Sonal Dabral, chairperson, Bates 141 India and regional executive creative director, Bates Asia, explaining the starting point for the creative. "Therefore, when it comes to positioning, we thought of communicating its stunning appearance."

This approach led the agency to the area of desire and admiration, with people falling in love with the car at first sight. "We stayed away from the category convention of the same old product shots, with a beginning and an end added on," remarks Dabral. Instead, a simple, 'endearing' story was selected: that of a grown up man acting like 'a child in front of a candy store' when he sees the Linea in the showroom.

The creative thought stems from the insight that men will always be boys when it comes to cars. Hence, a young boy (and not a girl) was a part of the story telling so that one could draw a parallel. Khanna says, "The TVC also aims to build an emotional bond with the brand."

Now you see it, now you don't

The ad unusually keeps away from long drawn product shots of the car in motion - a creative route that has infested the automobile category over the years. Dabral explains, "The idea is to show that just one look of the car is enough for him to lust after it. That is a stance only a confident company can take."

Khanna, on the other hand, is candid when he admits, "We were pushing the agency to show more of the car. But we also wanted to bring freshness into the category and finally took a risk with the approach that was suggested."

Certain scripts for the idea were shortlisted and were researched with consumers. The response received was that men saw themselves in the position of the father in the TVC.

Dheeraj Sinha, chief strategy officer, Bates 141, says, "All ads in the automotive category look pretty much the same right now, that is, they are very power-coded." This had to be strictly avoided in this case.

Ready for a test drive?

"You can't go wrong when you have kids or pets in an ad," was Sagar Mahabaleshwarkar's first reaction when afaqs! sought the opinion of the creative fraternity. Mahabaleshwarkar is chief creative officer, Rediffusion Y&R. However, he adds a word of caution here. "Though the ad is watchable, it makes me wonder if the proposition can be sustained for a long time," he says. He adds that there was very little of the product shown in the ad - something that Bates, on the contrary, sees as an advantage.

Prathap Suthan, national creative director, Cheil Communications, echoes Mahabaleshwarkar's point. "I'm not sure I admire it. If you're talking about a car, it should move," he declares. Dabral explains: "Since one look had to say it all, showing too much of the car would have dulled that idea."

As a planner, Mythili Chandrasekar, vice-president and executive planning director, JWT, is pleased with the insight that was leveraged. However, as a car buyer, she's "left clueless and without a strong reason to consider test driving the car." Chandrasekar, though, remains optimistic that this may get clearer as the communication progresses.

The launch TVC is supported by print and outdoor media. The prints ads are in two phases - phase one of which is the introductory ad, while the second phase highlights the key aspects of the car. A series of launch activities will also be carried out in various markets such as Chandigarh, Jalandhar, Kochi, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Pune, Kolkata, Guwahati, Delhi and Mumbai.