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The Fiat with no name

Fiat has made a striking statement with its latest ad for the 500e model, seemingly clapping back at the Italian government's recent criticisms about the brand's Italian heritage. The controversy, which includes disputes over the naming of the Alfa Romeo Milano SUV and the seizure of Fiat Topolinos, has not deterred Fiat from celebrating its legacy.

The ad itself is simple yet poignant, featuring the Fiat 500 without any visible Fiat branding. Despite this, the car remains unmistakably a Fiat, highlighting the strength and recognizability of its design. The ad's narrator aptly says,

"When a car has an iconic design and has always represented the joy of living, it can only be Italian and it can only be Fiat."

The tension began earlier this year when Stellantis, Fiat's parent company, was forced to rename the Alfa Romeo Milano SUV to Junior due to Italy's laws on geographic names. Shortly after, the Italian government seized 134 Fiat Topolinos, citing that the small Italian flag on the vehicles could mislead consumers about their origin since they are manufactured in Poland.

Fiat's latest ad can be seen as a subtle yet powerful response to these events. By showcasing the 500e without its logo, Fiat underscores that its design is so iconic it transcends branding. The car’s identity is ingrained in its form and function, representing a deep-rooted connection to Italian heritage that cannot be easily disrupted.

There are a few key points to take from this story. Firstly, I understand the Italian government's position. The Ministry for Business and Made in Italy (an actual department in the Italian government) aims to ensure that anything presented as Italian truly is made in Italy, and there's nothing wrong with that. Authenticity matters.

However, the Fiat 500's status as an iconic car that can be recognised without a logo is a significant achievement. It takes years of consistent, distinctive design to reach this level of brand recognition. Many cars, if stripped of their badges, would lose their identity. This ad is a testament to the power of strong design and branding, showing that heritage is more than just a label - it's embedded in the very essence of the product.

Fiat’s response through this ad is not just a statement to the government but a celebration of its legacy. It reinforces that the brand’s identity and heritage run deeper than logos and flags. For businesses looking to build a lasting brand identity, Fiat’s approach serves as a powerful example of the importance of consistent and iconic design.


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