Fiat’s advertising campaign for the US market has been such a refreshing change from the way the Fiat brand is marketed in Europe. Over here we are conditioned to think of Fiat as a middle-tier car maker; cheap, characterful, but not necessarily something to shout about.

But in America, where the Fiat 500 has recently been launched, they retained none other than J-Lo as a brand ambassador, followed by the talented lingerie model, Catrinel Menghia, and now ‘Tiger Blood’ himself, bad-boy actor Charlie Sheen to promote the 500 Abarth.

To mark the 1-year anniversary of Fiat’s return to the U.S. the new “House Arrest” ad was originally developed to run during the Super Bowl, but instead Fiat re-ran the popular “Seduction” ad – both of which feature the lovely Miss Menghia.

With the tagline, “All bad boys are not created equal”, the 60-second spot shows a black 500 Abarth being driven at high-speed around Sheen’s mansion, whilst a party of guests sips cocktails in the lounge. Screeching to a stop, Sheen exits the vehicle, wearing an ankle monitor, whereupon Miss Menghie flirtatiously approaches him as the actor proclaims “I love being under house arrest.”

Then, being Charlie Sheen, he follows this up with the quip “What do I get for good behaviour?”.

Fiat USA’s first commercial for the 500 Abarth, entitled “Seduction”, which introduced Catrinel Menghia to a wider audience, has clocked up more than 8 million views and ‘just’ missed our Top 10 Automotive social video campaigns of 2011.

“The Fiat 500 Abarth is the ‘small but wicked’ personality of the Fiat 500 and this spot captures that attitude and spirit,” said Olivier Francois, Head of Fiat Brand worldwide and Chief Marketing Officer, Chrysler Group LLC.

“The Fiat 500 Abarth is the bad boy of the Fiat vehicle line-up and Charlie Sheen personifies the edgy and fun attributes of the Fiat 500 Abarth in ‘House Arrest.'”

So far it seems to be working. Sales of the Fiat 500 in the U.S. were up 69 percent (3,227 units) in February compared with the previous month and with J-Lo, Menghia and now Sheen leading the way, at least nobody will be unaware that Fiat is back in the U S of A.

Written By

Steve Davies

Steve is an investor, private equity advisor and former Partner at KPMG, PwC and Bain.   Most importantly he's a life-long car enthusiast, mountain biker and active sports enthusiast. He designs and builds technology platforms and is the architect behind Transmission.

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