Less than a month after airing this commercial featuring Richard Gere driving the new Fiat Delta from Hollywood to Tibet, Italian automaker Fiat has been forced to withdraw the ad, and issue a statement extending its “apologies to the Government of the People’s Republic of China and to the Chinese people”. Readers of this blog (a group which no doubt excludes anyone from Fiat or their agency) will be aware that Richard Gere is a vocal proponent of Tibetan autonomy/independence. Earlier this month, when Fiat’s Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne first showed the ad to journalists, he was reported to have said in no uncertain terms:
“I obviously like it.”
Well, apparently, the launch of the Delta was carefully timed to coincide with June 4, so yes, we may be reading too much into all of this, but there’s no doubt whoever masterminded this whole campaign is a genius.
UPDATE: Tim Johnson of China Rises informs us that the ad will continue to run in Italy, and be introduced to other European countries. Now it gets exciting.
Ad of the Week: Citroen vs. Chairman Mao