Final Inspection

Sex Sells. Time to Get Over It.

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The caterwauling has begun. Albeit faintly.

Prudes and feminist flag-wavers have raised their squeaky voices in protest of the Fiat 500 Abarth teaser now racking up scores of YouTube views. (Some 600,000 over five days.)

“Wow, tired ethnic stereotyping and blatant sexism in the same spot!” says a poster named “gethsemeny.”

But of the 3,100-odd Web surfers who had cast ballots as of this morning, just 40 voted thumbs-down. Which means civilization is finally growing up.

Admittedly, the first few moments of the ad are uncomfortable for anyone with enlightened sensibilities. My mind raced as I watched the male character leer at the woman character’s – to borrow showroom parlance – features.

This cannot end well, I thought. What were they smoking over at Chrysler? Would marketing boss Olivier Francois survive the firestorm of controversy headed his way?

But when the woman character shows proper indignation and the male character displays appropriate remorse, the two are on equal footing (stiletto heels notwithstanding) to do what comes naturally – to flirt and be flirted with. Nothing new there.

Consider last year’s Old Spice ads in which a towel-clad Isaiah Mustafa (below) tells women viewers to look at their mates.

“Sadly, he isn’t me,” says the former NFLer. “But if he stopped using lady-scented body wash and switched to Old Spice, he could smell like he’s me.”

As of today, the spot had garnered more than 37 million views. And the approval rate was running 55:1 in favor.

Fiat’s 59-second social-media trial balloon deftly taps into our sensual relationship with cars. We admire their proportions and wonder how they will make us feel. That’s how cars become objects of desire.

Noteworthy here is the seamless integration of running shots when the teaser’s story concludes. Dealers will be happy.

Will it resonate on network television? Chrysler is pondering that question right now.

I say run it.

What's Final Inspection?

WardsAuto editors share insights and observations on the global auto industry.

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David E. Zoia

As Editorial Director, I oversee much of what goes into WardsAuto.com, enjoying a ringside seat that lets me observe up close just about every facet of the industry worldwide. I have covered the...

James M. Amend

James Amend is an associate editor at WardsAuto.com, covering day-to-day business and product news at General Motors. He also leads coverage of regulatory and environmental issues, as well as the...
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