Wednesday, January 23, 2008

'you are, we car' : 'you are, we don't care' [about the new Fiat 500 on the web]

This week saw Fiat launch its award–winning '500' in the UK. The multi–media advertising campaign carried the tag line 'you are we car'. Although this raised some question marks as to its quality as a tag line, it was how Fiat used it online that interested me. As expected, Fiat's marketers had addressed the issue of putting the new Fiat 500 online by adding it to the Fiat.co.uk web site.

However, the tag line has raised some comments – and if that was the intention [which it surely was], then that too should have been exploited online. Sadly, no. On the day the 500 launched in the UK, 'youarewecar' was available in all the major European domain name suffixes, plus the all important dot eu and dot com.

Whilst this left the company open to both 'cyberbashing sites' (a dissatisfied customer seting up a site saying how bad the car is on www.youarewecar.co.uk, for example) or 'ad-grabbers' (a car supermarket trying to under-cut the Fiat dealerships' prices, perhaps), perhaps the company had decided to keep everything – including its tag line content – on its main fiat.co.uk site. So I typed the tag line into Google to see how Fiat had handled the search engine optimization and advertising. And what I got was this …

Not only was there nothing in the organic listings, but there was no sponsored ad either – an ad that would have cost only pennies in PPC. Ironically, the top organic listing (which showed how easy it was to attain that position) was an auto site that was making fun of the tag line.

OK, so registering the tag line as a domain name and putting a quirky, non–sales oriented site (that matches the quirkiness of the term itself - and even the entire fiat 500 campaign, which has a 'zany' approach) on it may not have sold many cars – but it would have raised the brand profile in the precise demographic at which the car is targeted.

But wait, it gets worse.

This is what I got when I put 'fiat 500' into Google with and without the quotation marks:

Getting two different ads is bad enough [one carries the message 'official site', the other does not ] but take a good look at the domain name it shows - www.fiat500.co.uk. However, when you click on the Fiat500 link you are taken to a flash-driven page on the fiat.co.uk domain. So being curious, I tried typing www.fiat500.co.uk into my browser, and got this:

Did nobody at Fiat look for/at this domain? The chances are they have the 'rights' on it - though I would consider it obscene to take it back from this obvious devotee of the original car [see nissan.com]. But I'm sure if you offered Vanessa a new 500 she'd consider turning over the domain - or at least put a notice on the top of the home page saying 'click here for the new Fiat 500 home page'.

I didn't even bother looking on social networking sites for 'you are we car' – I figured that if the Fiat marketers had not grasped domain names, they were unlikely to have got to grips with a strategy for social media marketing.

But do you know what bugs me most about all of this? Well certainly that 'my' marketing subject has been ignored by a global car manufacturer - but more importantly for Fiat, all of the above would have cost - I would think - less than one per cent of that car's marketing budget.

Take gun(a). Take foot (b). Shoot (b) with (a).

Footnote I : I'm not the only one who questions the choice of tag line, try these : Away with words ; marketing mishaps ; you are, we confused ;

Footnote II : Just to show how easy it is to get the term listed on the Google SERP, only 12 hours after I posted this entry it is in at number 5 on Google for "you are we car".

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