Tuesday, February 07, 2012

that Fiat ad

Over at Naked Villainy, Mike talks about the sexy Fiat ad that aired during the Super Bowl. I hadn't seen it, so I watched it on Mike's blog Monday morning. The Maximum Leader wryly noted that the ad might mark the continued "coarsening" of American culture, but in a comment I appended to his post, I saw it differently:

What’s interesting about the [Fiat] ad is ... its raw animism. The dude was basically experiencing a hierophany-- in this case, an intimate encounter with a car-spirit. Mircea Eliade would have smiled. (Stephen King would have, too.)

While it helped to have a smoking-hot Italian chick as the ad's centerpiece (not the car, I'm afraid; the car looked like a toy), what struck me most was how primal and-- well-- mythological the ad was. Many cultures envision an encounter with the sacred as somehow sexual; this ad fits perfectly into that tradition.



John McCrarey said...

The other Fiat ad featured Clint Eastwood. (Fiat owns Chrysler now)

The pitch was it's halftime in America. I'm thinking it's the end of the 3rd quarter and come January it will be a new game.


Kevin Kim said...


Yeah, I saw the Eastwood ad on Super Bowl Sunday. A photo of Eastwood appeared on Drudge, and at first I thought that the crusty old cowboy had kicked the bucket or something. Then I read the tiny headline, clicked the link, and watched the vid on YouTube.

Didn't realize that Fiat now owns Chrysler. That certainly puts an interesting wrinkle on Eastwood's contention that the people of Detroit have risen to the challenge and pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps. It looks more as if the Italians swooped in and saved Detroit's ass.

I see there's been some controversy over Eastwood's commercial. I'm glad. Eastwood himself has been something of an enigma; he hovers right of center, has self-identified as both Republican and Libertarian, and basically just wants us all to respect each other's personal rights and pull together as a huge community.

He seems to be appealing to the traditional American can-do spirit, but the Fiat angle throws a wrench in that interpretation, and makes me wonder whether ol' Clint really has a grasp on the semiotics of the situation. I'll bet he's startled by all these questions as to whether he's a liberal now. Somewhere, Matt Damon is having a chuckle.

Kevin Kim said...

I should note, by the way, that I'm not a fan of actors' making political statements. They have a right to do so, of course, but I see no reason to give their opinion any more weight than that of, say, my best friends and/or my blog's readership.

John McCrarey said...

Eastwood denies it was political, but I don't see how you miss the connection with the bailout and "saving Detroit".

In fact, the merger with Fiat (and the Italian CEO for Chrysler) were required by Obama in order to receive additional bailout money.

For the record, Bush bailed out Chrysler as well. So, I guess in that since the ad apolitical.

The Maximum Leader said...

I'd not thought of a hierophanic moment. One could make an argument for a meeting of the car spirit. The more I think of it the more I think that your interpretation is closer to what the ad execs were looking for.

Of course the car is small, so the model should have been shorter...

Also, I've now learned that the model is Romanian and not Italian. (Not that it makes a big difference to me...)

John from Daejeon said...

I guess another company was just sacked for a safety and threw away millions on a worthless ad for a car no one is "talking about" buying. Hopefully, they will learn that they are still 100 yards away from getting the mainstream American public to consider Fiat something that they just have to purchase as their next car especially as it seemed to most U.S. males that there was nothing other than a hot woman in that commercial.

It takes an commercial with a whole lot of heart or a great gimmick to get lazy people out of their Lay-z-Boys. Now, here's one with heart that gets it right and makes me feel like purchasing that brand for hair I don't even have.

Kevin Kim said...

John Mac,

Yeah, the political resonance is hard to deny, especially in an election year. Whatever Eastwood may have intended, he sent out interestingly mixed messages. He's a rightie shilling for the union-dominated car industry; he's asking the country to pull together, but implicitly critiquing Obama by referring to the dire situation we're in.


Interesting! For a Romanian, she speaks pretty damn good Italian.

John from Daejeon,

Yeah, I've seen a good bit of Fiat ad-related talk on my Twitter feed, but you're right: it's all about the woman, not the car.

John McCrarey said...

Nice parody ad here: