Fiat 500 sales in the U.S. not meeting expectations, says Olivier Francois

Article by Christian Andrei, on September 28, 2011

Sales for the Fiat 500 haven’t been hitting expectations but Olivier Francois, chief marketing officer and head of brand marketing communications for Fiat-Chrysler, thinks that the problem isn’t the car but rather, it’s an awareness issue. Fiat-Chrysler chairman Sergio Marchionne set a target of 6,000 units each month in the U.S. market but after six months, its sales are nowhere near this goal.

Dealerships are complaining that they only have one model (the 500) available. Fiat has ended its partnership with its original U.S. agency, which may have been too small and poorly equipped to manage a full-scale car launch.

Fiat had been preparing for a celebrity-filled marketing campaign but things didn’t go as planned and had to be canceled, says AdAge. The most recent ad stars Jennifer Lopez in a music video but already, it is being criticized due to its creative and media placement.

Francois, chief marketing officer and head of marketing and communications for Chrysler, has a full plate but has added oversight of Fiat marketing this month. Last January, Ad Age said that Fiat North America CEO Laura Soave had chosen Impatto to manage its creative duties and event strategy. Impatto is a boutique agency based in Southfield, Mich., that’s headed by Michael D'Antonio.

Though the Cinquecento had its beginnings in Italy, it was polished in the U.S. That’s how it has become an engaging and vibrant vehicle as it is agile and athletic. Similar to the Fiat 500 Sport, it displays the stylish and smart aesthetic design the company is known for. Even if the first Fiat 500 was released 50 years ago, the Cinquecento still has a timeless value while still being unique and offering its own potential and imbued with craftsmanship that is first-rate.

Power this latest offering is the 1.4-liter engine that comes with the company’s own advanced MultiAir technology, the same one inside the Fiat 500 Sport. With this technology, power delivery is greater by as much as 10% when compared to engines of the same type. However, even with this increase in power, fuel economy is improved with emissions lowered.

In terms of its look, it has brake calipers in Red, as well as having the window trim shadow-line in gloss black and exhaust tip in chrome. In order to get an excellent look on the surroundings, the Fiat 500 Sport will include a power SkyDome sun roof. Offered for the Fiat 500 will be the Lounge and Pop models with each having distinct exterior cues and even different equipment options. Specifically for the Cinquecento, it has unique adaptations targeted for the North American market.

It is aimed at customers who want a vehicle that delivers functionality and practicality but also has fashion and style. Since it has a sport-tuned suspension, the fascias in the front and back have an athletic style, due to the grille made larger and its flared aerodynamic treatment, which complements this. In the middle of the aluminum 16-inch wheels are the pockets in Mineral Gray which integrates the body-side sill cladding in order to have a sportier look.

To make it truly fit for the North American market, changes were done on some of the features on the interior, the technology, and even the driving dynamics. Indeed, this high-value and stylish vehicle will be a good option for small car customers. Orders for the new Fiat 500 will be accepted in the later part of the year and will be offered in Sport, Lounge, and Pop variants. The Fiat 500C (cabrio) will then be released by the spring of 2011.

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