Sales of the Fiat 500 Abarth were sluggish until the Italian automaker took a page from the tried and true “sex in advertising” playbook. The ongoing Fiat Abarth commercial campaign featuring Romanian supermodel Catrinel Menghia, which debuted during the 2011 Super Bowl broadcast, has helped propel the brand to record sales through March 2012. Parent company Chrysler expects more big things from the Abarth, thanks to a new round of spots featuring Menghia.
Sex sells in the US
Chrysler reported a record 3,712 sales of the Fiat 500 Abarth in March, up from 3,227 in February. This continued the sales trend that began in December 2011.
Tim Kuniskis, head of Fiat North America, told the Detroit Free Press that more than 30,000 consumers have expressed interest in buying the new Fiat 500 Abarth, and over 1,000 cash deposits have been made for the vehicle.
“We have some momentum behind us,” said Kuniskis. “I think we will sell out by late summer,” speaking of the 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth.
Catrinel Menghia’s ultra-sexy turn in Abarth commercials has been credited for the brand’s success, although a previous TV spot featuring actress and singer Jennifer Lopez is known to have boosted brand awareness by 30 percent. By the time the recent Abarth commercial featuring both Menghia and notorious actor Charlie Sheen hit the airwaves, Fiat 500 Abarth brand recognition was at a very healthy 45 percent, according to polls conducted by Chrysler.
The more Menghia, the better
Menghia has become a global icon thanks to the U.S. run of Fiat 500 Abarth commercials. Fiat insiders have noted that Menghia has been successful in helping to convey the more provocative image that the automaker desires.
The original Super Bowl spot (entitled “Seduction”) features Menghia and a hopelessly smitten male office worker who is too distracted by Menghia’s sleek curves and cafe latte finger-painting skills to notice that he’s about to kiss a parked Fiat 500 Abarth. It went viral immediately, drawing more than 1 million views on YouTube. Edmunds noted that online Fiat traffic was measured at seven different points during the Super Bowl broadcast. By game’s end, the average increase in traffic was 138 percent.
“We thought we’d be killed for showing it,” Kuniskis said. “We’ve gotten no heat on this ad. None.”
Hot sands, Sin City
The return of Catrinel Menghia to the Fiat 500 Abarth stage brought two shorter, yet no less sexy spots. The first features a black Abarth tearing across dry lake beds. Shots of the sultry Menghia burning up the desert are interspersed, she being clad in a black leather driving jacket and tight pants. Another clip shows another black Abarth cruising Las Vegas streets. Familiar Vegas neon landmarks are visible, but the viewer’s attention is drawn to shots of Menghia with her hair down, out for a stroll.
Winning, times two
The most recent Catrinel Menghia Fiat 500 Abarth spots feature a sexy race and the infamous playboy Charlie Sheen. The brand with the scorpion symbol never looked so good.
In “Winning” – which oddly does not feature Sheen – Menghia throws down the gauntlet against a stunned, mild-mannered man in business attire. The invitation to race begins with her suggestive question in Italian, “Facciamo un giro?” (“Shall we have a go”) and the taunt “Chi ti credit ti essere?” or “Who do you think you are?” A race between Fiat 500 Abarths drives the sexy Fiat Abarth home for viewers.
Sheen makes his appearance in “House Arrest,” where the actor drives an Abarth around inside during a house party.
“I love being under house arrest,” Sheen says. “What do I get for good behavior?”
The dynamic duo’s commercial drew 1.5 million YouTube views within the commercial’s first two weeks on the air. Chrysler chief marketing officer Olivier Francois noted Sheen’s kinship with the Abarth brand.
“(Sheen) definitely has a bit of the scorpion in him,” he said.
Catrinel Menghia, translated