FIAT Kowtows to Cockamamie Chinese Clamor

Martin Schwoerer
by Martin Schwoerer

Does it sound like a good idea to advertise the new Lancia Delta in the U.K. by showing Richard Gere frolicking with some Buddhist monks from Tibet? Odd? Certainly. Cute? Maybe. Problematic? Well yes, if you dislike the kind of lefty vegetarian sanctimonious Hollywood type Gere represents (which I don't). But could this spot really be a reason to apologize? Just-Auto [sub] reports that upon hearing of cockamamie protests from Beijing, Fiat kowtowed to the dictators in the People's Republic. "Fiat Group reiterates its neutrality in connection with any political matter, be it on a national or international basis. To the extent that the Lancia Delta advertising may give rise to misinterpretations of its well established position of neutrality, Fiat Group extends its apologies to the Government of the People's Republic of China and to the Chinese people." Yes, it hurts the Chinese Government's feelings that the pro-Tibet Gere is shown in some vaguely positive way in Tibet, or something. And it dismays us that Fiat, a car maker on the ascent, apparently didn't know what it was doing when it OK'd this ad, and obviously doesn't have a pair.

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  • Robert Farago Robert Farago on Jun 27, 2008

    I apologize for the blank screen after a comment is submitted. Our bad. Techies are aware.

  • HPE HPE on Jun 27, 2008

    If you want to be really anal about it (and it's probably good form seeing as how it's the name of the guy who founded it), the correct pronounciation is "Laanchya". On the UK relaunch...despite appearances (and the English voiceover), this is actually an Italian-market spot. Sergio Marchionne wants Lancia to return to the UK so it will doubtless happen in time, but the date of October this year has already been pushed back a year and I expect it to be pushed back again. There are a few problems - the first is a dealer mutiny who can see the impending disaster unfolding, the second is relaunching with a threadbare range (even if they go in late '09 as is now the plan, they will still only be launching with the Delta and the next-gen Ypsilon), and apart from all that, there is the residual dismal Lancia image in Blighty. Not to mention the fact that a comfort-biased car like the Delta is going to bomb in the notoriously badge-obsessed, 'sportiness'-obsessed UK market. The UK is one of BMW's biggest markets worldwide, in no small part because of the halo image of the M-cars - "my 318i is just like my neighbour's M3" syndrome. Lancia's current marketing and range is antithetical to all of that. It works in continental Europe, especially Italy, France, and to a lesser extent Germany. But the UK is fundamentally different, which is why I think they'll hold off until they have something they can relaunch in a meaningful way with...

  • Martin Schwoerer Martin Schwoerer on Jun 27, 2008

    Thanks for the information, HPE! Am I right to assume you drive a Delta HPE?

  • HPE HPE on Jun 27, 2008

    Hi Martin, I used to run a Beta HPE until recently as my daily driver, but it's in very nice nick and it seemed a shame to subject it to that sort of grind. As a result it has been relegated to dry-weekend duties, with daily driver status presently bestowed upon a hilariously roughshod three-and-one-quarter-cylinder Fiat 128 3p. Before you ask - yes, I am utterly insane.