Automotive: July 2007 Archives

lamborghini-cologne.gif I'm inspired by the launch of the new Lamborghini cologne to do a quick run down on how perfume naming and exotic car brands go together.

First of all, it seems to be that foreign sports cars--particularly Italian brand names--are the ones that lend themselves best to perfume brand naming.


The Bugatti perfume (limited edition) goes for a cool five grand and comes in a very interesting bottle.

Ferrari has already sewn up the perfume and cologne market, of course, with the intelligently named Donna Ferrari perfume for women. Italian car brands just have such a sex appeal built into them that crossing over into colognes and perfumes seems easy... even the logos seem to work.

American brand names offer a harder challenge. Witness the Mustang Men cologne. It's really hard to get by the fact that if you are a guy slapping this stuff on, you might smell like, well, a horse.

Of course, since Ferrari has a colt on its bottle and Lamborghini has a fighting Miura bull, this should not be a problem, but that name--Mustang--that's a little tough.

The logo of a farm animal is one thing... but actually naming a perfume after one, that's a whole different story; especially since a huge part of the target market is women buying gifts for men.

Hummer-cologne.gif But the hardest perfume brand-naming job by far has to be Hummer. How on earth did Elizabeth Arden sell men a cologne with the name Hummer on it? Aside from the multitude of off-color jokes it will inspire, a Hummer itself is just not sexy. It's a mean machine. Which is why it seems destined to fail in the US.

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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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