A year ago, Chrysler and Fiat chief marketing executive Olivier Francois drew fire in the U.S. for running an ad shot at the 10th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates. The ad, which showed Fiat's Lancia vehicles, also featured the Chrysler 300 sedan, as well as focusing the viewer on the plight of Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who was imprisoned in Burma. Francois wasn't drawing criticism in some published news reports and blogs for using the imprisonment of pro-democracy San Suu Kyi to sell cars, but for using an Italian ad agency to make the ad just months after taking a U.S. taxpayer bailout and firing longtime U.S. agency BBDO.
Flash forward one year. Francois had Italian agency Armando Testa shoot another ad at the 11th annual summit in Hiroshima, Japan, earlier this month. The ad was meant to, again, spotlight the plight of San Suu Kyi. While in flight between Detroit and San Francisco, though, Francois got an e-mail from the Burmese foreign minister alerting him to the fact the San Suu Kyi would soon be released. The ad was then edited to turn it into a celebratory spot (above), with Francois dictating the edits from his flight.
The ad that debuted on Fiat.com and on European TV shows only Lancias. But Francois says he also shot the Dalai Lama getting out of a Chrysler 300 at the summit. Maybe U.S. viewers will see the ad yet with the Chrysler vehicle.
Francois says he was "very surprised" by the reaction to the ad he ran in the U.S. last year. "The facts and the implications were wrong," he says. "My God, how much does anyone think is spent on an ad like this. … we shot them with a [Sony Handycam]."