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It is not uncommon for us to spend some time when we first start working with a client trying to answer the following question: Who is your Target Customer? Who is this video or website speaking to? Who’s attention are you trying to grab? That’s why it sometimes blows our minds (and not in a good way) to see large companies struggle to articulate and define their target customers. Take for example, Fiat’s foray into the United States. Now, I do understand that the ads below are for two different “iterations” of the Fiat 500. However, Fiat didn’t have a brand presence in the US prior to these commercials airing, so it would have been wise for them to use these first few commercials to establish their brand identity. Also, both the Fiat 500 and the Fiat 500 Abarth look pretty much exactly the same, so to the casual observer all of the following commercials could be for the same car.

The first Fiat ad I saw featured Jennifer Lopez, and focused on her driving through New York City and ending up at the Bronx, where she’s from. The message I got from this commercial is that she’s still “Jenny From the Block”, and she’s “real”.

The second Fiat commercial that featured Lopez was for a Gucci Edition Fiat 500. I know that when I want to seem real and down to earth, the first thing I do is cover myself in luxury labels.

Then came the infamous Fiat Super Bowl commercial. If you haven’t seen it, it features a man creepily ogling a gorgeous woman, and then the tables are turned when she in turn starts “seducing” the creeper. Let me spoil it for you: it turns out she’s a sexy car all along! Needless to say, this commercial was not a hit in our house.

I was utterly confused as to who Fiat is trying to sell to: people from working class/socially and racially diverse neighborhoods, people who are obsessed with status and labels, or creepy guys with car fetishes. However, the ultimate confusion happened a few nights ago, where I saw their latest commercial featuring Charlie Sheen and his awful toupee. Yes, THE Charlie Sheen that has had countless allegations of domestic violence, soliciting prostitutes, and drug use. He also looks like he just returned from a three-week long cocaine binge.

Do I feel like Fiat is talking to me with any of these ads? Honestly, no. I think their cars are cute as heck, but every time I see one of their commercials, my reactions vary from uninterested to completely appalled. Don’t make Fiat’s mistake: think long and hard about who you are trying to hook, and let us help you fine tune your message.