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July 6, 2007

Fiat Cinquecento Tears Page From Apple's Brand Naming Playbook

Fiat500I was pleased to see that the Fiat 500 is back and Fiat not only hopes it will not only become the "iPod of cars" but also revive its iconic brand name.

VWBeetleThe 500, known affectionately as the 'Cinquecento' is to Fiat as the Beetle is to Germany or the Mini to Britain. It's that iconic small car that captured the public's imagination two generations ago, the car that many Italian boomers remember with pride.

At 500cc, the thing was practically a go-cart, which was part of its appeal. Many Italians remember their grandparents traveling all the way from northern Italy to Sicily and back with three kids in the Cinquecento.

MiniFiat seem to have emulated Apple's "Think Different" campaign with a Cinema Paradiso twist.

  • The fact that a carmaker comes right out and says that it wants to be "like Apple" is interesting, and the strategy here is deeply Applesque.
  • Fiat is unlikely to make much money off this car, it is simply hoping to bring the well loved brand name back to revitalize the Fiat parent brand and increase interest in its Alfa Romeo and Lancia name plates just like Apple has lured many customers into buying Macs through the sheer coolness of the iPod.

Using one brand name to build another is nothing new in marketing, but this is one of the savviest and biggest applications of the strategy that I have ever seen.

It's a shame that there are no plans to introduce the Cinquecento in the US (it gets 46 mpg and has a top speed of 99 MPH, making it green friendly).

But with a product name this difficult to pronounce (cheenk-weh-chen-toh), perhaps this will remain solely an Italian brand naming coup after all, although Mark Healy seems to think it may be coming to the U.S. "in the next few years."

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Posted by William Lozito at July 6, 2007 9:09 AM
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