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Fiat, Italy and tourism

Di Emilio De Risi, 10 Febbraio 2012

For a few years now, car advertising has typically adopted the emotional approach. The motor vehicle is often presented as an extension of one’s personality – humorous, transgressive, captivating… You may have noticed that the latest commercials are soundtracked by an off-screen voice, somewhat after the style of Spike Lee’s The Twenty-Fifth Hour.

A few days ago, during a wild zapping session, and made additionally irritable by a bad cold, I saw the advertisement of the new Fiat Panda. It was emotional advertising, though not product-focused as most: it was rather a proclamation which left me wide-eyed.

The uncut version is rather long, about 90 seconds (even though the TV campaign alternates the typical formats of 5, 15 and 30 seconds).

The blows of a hammer beat out the rhythm, and a warm voice speaks about the beautiful things Italy can do and produce.

The voice intones: «Art, inventiveness, crafting talent, manufacturing enterprises». And later on: «… in Italy every day somebody wakes up and puts talent, passion, creativity but especially the will to build something well done, into his work».

The commercial shows an intention to stir emotions, by depicting not only a country, but also Fiat’s outlook on the Italian State.

Precisely this outlook has left me unconvinced, because when a view of Mount Vesuvius appears, and a smiling restaurant owner is shown while serving a plate of Italian spaghetti, the commercial warns us: “The time has come to decide if we want to be ourselves or be content with the image someone else wants to give of us”.

I would like to ask Fiat and the agency Kube Libre which created the advertisement: does hospitality mean lack of ambition? Does the skill to welcome a tourist in a smiling and professional way involve carrying a label? Is having unique natural resources a stereotype? Because there might be some other quite different clichés to repudiate, not hospitality and natural resources.

In my view, if, in our Country, we had pursued a policy centred on tourism and not only the heavy industry, we would now have a more widespread wealth. If it had not been suggested in many places, and particularly in the South where I was born, that working in tourism was worse than being a factory worker, maybe more would have been done to promote that “poor relation” of all economic policies.

The commercial ends with the statement that “the things we build make us what we are… This is the Italy people like”. I believe that working in the hospitality business, too, means building an Italy we like. What do you think about it?

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