Fiat Saves the World, and Gets Ads Aired for Free

"Fiat, strapped for cash and struggling to draw attention to the Lancia, decided a few years ago to promote the brand as helping improve society," reports Aaron Patrick. So the company sponsored the Ninth World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, held in Paris in December 2008. The laureates were driven to the summit in black Lancia Deltas, and filmed by the car company as they arrived. Fiat's now turned that video footage into a car commercial that's getting free air time across Europe, because it's being treated as a public service announcement. After showing several Nobel laureates exiting Lancia Delta cars, the commercial shows an empty car. A photo of imprisoned Burmese pro-democracy activist and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi then appears, with the words: "Lancia supports Aung San Suu Kyi. Free now." Fiat had the permission of the Nobel laureates, with the exception of Suu Kyi, who could not be contacted. However, "her representatives overseas" had a "positive response" to the commercial. A Fiat executive says the spot is "not only for Lancia's benefit. It's for the benefit of the world." Professor Michael Boylan called the spot "unethical and classless," because "Fiat isn't offering direct help to Ms. Suu Kyi."


I am not saying this kind of thing is ideal. Obviously they are chiefly out to promote themselves. But companies are never going to stop advertising. So at least more people will know who these people are because of the PR campaign. At least it is not completely mindless.