PERSPECTIVE: Fiat and Faithless produce a “Prommercial”

So there we have it, the UK’s first musical “prommercial” has come and gone in the space of 3 minutes and 22 seconds. It was first shown last Sunday, 15 August and screened during a break in the Channel 4 reality show Big Brother. Fiat booked the entire three-minute advert break to show the music video and create maximum impact.

The question is, will it be a success?

Firstly let’s take a look at the video of Faithless’ new single Feelin’ Good itself. We knew earlier in the week that the loose structure of the video would involve two individuals in a night club having their dance moves manipulated by the members of Faithless and logically since Fiat had funded the video, it includes a highly-visible presence of several Fiat Punto Evos.

Click to watch the Faithless - Feelin' Good video on SkiddPlayer

And that’s essentially what the prommercial portrays. Firstly, we see a male clubber dancing around erratically before his movement is revealed as being linked to a ragdoll (that looks like the iconic Maxi Jazz) hanging from the roof of a blue Punto Evo. After some more bizarre dance moves – as the car sways side to side through the black of the night – we are introduced to another Punto Evo, this time a white one containing a Sister Bliss looking ragdoll. Up then steps a female dancer in the club who, as I’m sure you can guess, starts swaying around to the shapes thrown by this Sister Bliss ragdoll. That’s essentially it as far as a storyline is concerned – the awkward dance routines continue until the end of the video.

Our Thoughts

The car in question, the Fiat Punto Evo

Let’s handle the positive things first. The video is shot well from a technical standpoint, little expense has been spared as we are treated to 202 seconds of bright lights and fancy camera angles. The shots of the cars on the road show the angles of the Punto Evo off well enough, thanks in part to the absence of any distractions, as Fiat obviously managed to clear the roads of other cars for the video. The dancers manage to strut their stuff like someone who’s perhaps had a little too much of the stuff from the top shelf, so that generates a few initial laughs.

However the problem with the video lies with the concept rather than the execution of its technical details. Firstly, as soon as the second rag doll is introduced it soon becomes clear that there is no further “story” to the video – it’s just going to me more dancing about interspersed with completely unrelated shots of the Punto Evo out on the roads. Online viewers tend to have very short attention spans and anything that suggests repetition often leads to the video being closed and no further engagement with the campaign. A strongly defined story tends to ensure viewers will stick with a video to its conclusion (just take a look at some of those OK GO videos, such as This Too Shall Pass).

This issue with congruency is further exacerbated by the linking between the dance club scene and the car itself. As we must keep cutting between the club and the road, the shots of the car do not flow, which results in the video feeling like a forced advertorial clip, rather than an entertainment experience. To achieve success with campaigns such as this, the “product” involved needs to be absorbed subliminally rather than slapped in your face. The recent Peroni advert is a good example of this.

Which is more memorable? Renault's bum shaking or Fiat's ragdolls?

Furthermore, whilst we accept this is predominantly Faithless’ music video, the video doesn’t show off any of the features of the car that would entice us in to perhaps doing more research on the car or consider a test drive. The cars are driven round at no more than 30mph, so given that the Punto Evo is aimed at young and enthusiastic drivers, this also seems confusing.

In essence, there’s a mismatch of the music and the cars involved. Whereas Jaguar and Sting complemented one another well in the Desert Rose video (style, class and sophistication) and Renault’s Mégane adverts with Groove Armada’s I See You Baby (fun, cheeky, amusing), the Punto Evo and Faithless’ Feelin’ Good´do not align well.

This is perhaps not Fiat’s fault as the single is not particularly strong or radio-friendly and most importantly lacks a strong melody or memorable chorus which would enable listeners to recollect and discuss it with their friends, ala the Renault Megane / I See You Baby adverts.

Fiat UK: Their view

We spoke exclusively with Fiat UK’s PR Director Peter Newton about the campaign and here’s what he had to say:

We’re operating in a really tough market place, made even tougher by the current economic challenges we’re facing in the UK. Punto Evo is a recent addition to our range, and it’s a car that we believe is most appealing to younger car owners – an audience that can be difficult to engage with. At Fiat we always try to do things differently to ensure that we stand out, but with this car we knew that to succeed we would need to be even more innovative in our thinking.

Music was an obvious place for us to start when it came to speaking to our audience, but we were really keen not to be another one of those brands which just ‘sponsors’ a band or a music property. To win over a hugely sceptical audience, we knew we would need to earn our place in the music scene.

This time round we’re taking that a step further by helping a very successful UK band make their latest album as successful and accessible as possible. With regard to the future, the Feelin’ Good video is the main piece of partnership activity, but we’re working together on a number of smaller creative collaborations which will be announced soon.

We’re investing in a couple of other videos for tracks from the new album. We’re also planning to work with Faithless on some UK Tour dates that will be announced later this summer. Music has been a great property for Fiat and Punto Evo, and it’s definitely an area we want to continue to work in.

Closing thoughts

Will the dancing return in Fiat and Faithless' next collaboration?

It’s interesting that Fiat see this as the first step towards more collaborations with Faithless, so that means they have an opportunity to perhaps learn from some of these issues and engage more closely in future efforts. We applaud Fiat for getting involved in the music scene and taking a different angle to the usual TV advert, but a couple of minor tweaks would in our opinion go a long way.

Response to the video has been mixed and in the main at the opposite ends of the scale – viewers either love the video or have fiercely expressed themselves in opposition to it. Interestingly, much of the beef people have with the video is the overt Fiat involvement rather than the concept itself, which underlines our earlier point about introducing the Punto Evo in a more subliminal way.

Most viewers have expressed an understanding that in these austere times, a musician has to consider more creative approaches to the financing and promotion of their songs, so there is little in the way of berating how the video is financed.

Next time we look forward to seeing Fiat produce a video that is more tightly linked conceptually with the music (by perhaps linking the lyrics to the journey the car travels on) and one that doesn’t confusingly jump around from location to location.

A strong and engaging story, be it funny, outrageous or thought-provoking will stimulate sharing of video content virally and further engagement with the campaign. The song’s current position of #131 in the iTunes UK chart might well suggest that despite all the fanfare, there is room for improvement in Faithless and Fiat round two.

Drive a Faithless Punto

The “Punto Evo Feelin Good” featured is now available £9,595 OTR

Want to try the car in the advert out? The “Punto Evo Feelin Good” featured in the video with15-inch alloy wheels, metallic paint, sports bumpers, Blue&Me information and entertainment system, Start&Stop, rear spoiler, dark tinted headlights, and adaptive cornering foglights is now available for £9,595 OTR (for the 3-door model).

Fiat are also running a test drive incentive of a free 2GB MP3 player and a copy of the new Faithless album ‘The Dance’, including an exclusive track, for anyone who test drives a Punto Evo before 21 September.