Ferrari’s publicity stunt in Nanjing, China to celebrate its 20th anniversary in the country was planned to be an outright success, with dreams of boosting the reputation of the Italian sports car maker even further. But after the stunt, Ferrari woke up to a public relations nightmare. The stunt involved having a special edition $954,000 458 Italia, with tires squealing, performing donuts on top of a 600-year-old city wall that dates to the Ming dynasty.
News reports indicate that the stunt left ugly black tire marks on the ancient wall, sending cleaners to remove the stain but without much success. According to Ferrari China, the stunt was an unauthorized action made by staff of Kuaiyi Automobile, a local Ferrari dealer in Nanjing. In an apology, Ferrari China said it always respected Chinese traditional culture and values the protection of historical and cultural relics, adding that it “deeply regrets the incident."
The incident earned the ire of Chinese netizens, especially that luxury cars are viewed by some as symbol of excess in a country where the wealth gap is a sensitive issue. A Nanjing blogger said that as a result of the disrespect brought by Ferrari, the Italian car maker does not deserve to stay in the city. The Yangtze Evening Post disclosed that the Nanjing official who gave permission to Ferrari to use the wall for publicity was sacked for "incompetence and mismanagement."