500 times 500

I like the latest 500X advertisement. I think it is funny and coherent with the product. The irony of the advert reminds me of the tv commercial Fiat launched in 2002. The one with the catchphrase «Buonasera…». That was a great campaign, with just one problem: Everyone remembered the advertisement but no one remembered the brand. It looked like a funny carousel sponsored by Fiat. And not an advertisement to promote a product. And this is very different.
Talking about marketing we can refer to two concepts. 1) Product promise, which can be summarized as the commitment made by a company to its customers. It embodies everything that the company, brand, marketing, features and benefits and product description can convey. And it should not be overshadowed by creativity. 2) Related to recall, defined as the ratio between the campaign’s reputation and the brand or product awareness. In this perspective, the point is not just to create an adv campaign everyone remembers, but also an adv campaign thanks to which everyone remembers the product or brand that advertises.
But going back to the advertisement of the new 500X. Or rather, going back to the product: 500X. The car itself. Even if the advertising is funny and communicatively apt, the car is the prototype of one of the most alarming trends of the contemporary economy: Today (almost) nothing is really new. There are only few companies that take the risk to innovate. The risk to launch new products. And Fiat is definitely not one of them.
Among fourteen models, seven are variants of the 500 (launched in 1936): 500, 500C, 500X City Look, 500X Off Road Look, 500L, 500L Trekking, 500L Living. There are three variants of the Panda (launched in 1980): Panda, Panda 4×4, Panda Cross. One is a review of the Punto (launched in 1993). One is the Qubo (launched in 2007 but as a variant of the Citroën Nemo and Peugeot Bipper). One is the Doblò (launched in 2000 as the heir of the Fiorino launched in 1977). One is the Freemont, the only totally new model launched in the last twenty years.
In this perspective, nowadays “new” has never been so old. New has become a sort of increasingly doped repetition of the past. Let’s take, for the sake of the topic, the parable of the 500 model. Launched in 1936 as a little, elegant and iconic car, it was first made bigger and revived as a “new” 500 then made even bigger and sold as 500L and finally “SUVized” and turned into the 500X, a car that has lost the beauty and the elegance of the original 500 model. And so the question: instead of doping (and distorting) a myth, why not take the risk of launching a new model?
Obviously this paradigm not only concerns Fiat or, more generally, to the automotive industry. Let’s move to the cinema. From the second Ghostbusters, to the third Back to the Future and the fourth Indiana Jones, and then again the fifth Rocky, the sixth Star Wars, the seventh Harry Potter and the eighth Batman until the twenty-third James Bond, and then we can get back with the prequel of Alien, X-Men, Spiderman and Terminator, or we can sink in the remake of Ocean’s Eleven, The Ladykillers, The Italian Job, King Kong, Psycho, The Next Three Days, Everybody’s Fine, War of the Worlds, The Planet of the Apes and Scarface, movies seem more and more a déjà vu that keeps on repeating (as the super-quoted Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra once put it).
A repetition, more or less innovative, that guards against the risk of developing something new. And that leads to two conclusions (that we could define using “SWOTian” terms). The first one is a possibility. The second a threat. 1) In a world where no one takes the risk to innovate, those who take this risk (and they are able to do it) take all and they exponentially increase their turnover. One example: Apple (the iPhone and the iPad have created new markets). 2) The threat instead regards the future. The market of repetition is not infinite. How long can we repeat the past? Today repetition is only based on technology: remaking but with different media (comic books turned into movies, cartoons replicated in 3D, old car models revisited as SUV, simplified classic literature and so on), but this technocracy can not (I hope) last forever. Unless we want to reach the McLuhan paradox: The medium becomes the message and then technology becomes the content.