How you present your product to your potential customers truly matters. The best marketers understand that a marketing campaign can either make or break your product and even your entire brand. The success of your product is largely determined by how well the product is welcomed into the market by potential customers. As such marketing experts stress that a comprehensive marketing plan including research, strategy, execution as well as management are crucial to avoid marketing fails like that of the Italian carmaker Fiat.
In 1994, the carmaker launched an advertising campaign for its latest model Fiat 500 targeting the female population in Spain. The campaign was rather unique as it wasn’t on billboards, radios or newspapers but instead opted for anonymous pink love letters personally addressed to 50,000 young women. To the unsuspecting women, the love letter called for a little indulgence in an adventure. The message read,
“Yesterday we saw each other again. We met on the street and I noticed how you glanced interestedly in my direction. I only need to be with you for a couple of minutes, and even if it doesn’t work out, I promise you won’t forget our little experience together.”
Unfortunately, Fiat did not anticipate the outcome the love-letter campaign had in store. While they targeted the working and independent women intending to create a romanticized and intriguing love sensation with the car advertisements, the campaign resulted in a disaster. The love letters triggered anxiety, fear and tension instead. Women ended up confused and scared of their ‘secret admirers’, some stayed put in their homes and would not go out without a male company, and others reported to the police. The campaign had even sparked up jealousy among married couples over fears of existing secret lovers. And who could blame them, they were being stalked and the letter had in no way suggested to have come from a Fiat car until four days later.
Fiat sent out a second letter after four days to solve the mystery. The letter included a signature, brochure and an invitation to the nearest Fiat store. Although the reveal would have come as a relief to many, the damage was already done. Fiat ended up getting sued and had to pay a hefty fine for the ad campaign which was followed by apology letters. Fiat learnt the hard way of the dangers of advertising. It is not really about how much you spend on marketing campaigns. It is about the story that your marketing campaign sells to your potential customers.
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