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Fiat Apologizes to China for Car Ad featuring Richard Gere

June 22, 2008

Ed. Note – I am not completely clear why they (Fiat) would apologize, but perhaps it’s because they (Fiat) are just as spineless as the rest of the world when it comes to holding China accountable for anything that they (China) do. But maybe it’s just me… Video of the commercial is at the end of this article.

From Reuters – Italian car maker Fiat has apologized to China over its new television commercial featuring U.S. actor Richard Gere and a reference to Tibet after Chinese newspapers carried reports about it.

In a statement issued on Friday, Fiat said it did not endorse Gere’s political views. The actor supports Tibet’s autonomy from China.

“Fiat reiterates its neutrality in connection with any political matter, be it on a national or international basis,” it said. “Fiat Group extends its apologies to the Government of the People’s Republic of China and to the Chinese people.”

A spokesman said Fiat decided to issue the statement after reports about the commercial appeared in Chinese newspapers.

The commercial, which began airing in Italy this month, is for the Delta, a new car under Fiat’s Lancia brand. It is featured on http://www.youtube.com.

Its shows Gere driving the car from Hollywood to Tibet, whose autonomy from China he supports.

Tibet has become a focal point for protests against China as the country prepares to host the Olympic Games this summer.

Fiat Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne spoke in favor of the commercial when it was first shown to reporters at the launch of the car on June 4.

“I obviously like it,” he said.

Officials at the Chinese embassy in Rome could not be reached for comment.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 25, 2008 3:43 pm

    I think we’re seeing the future of branding and advertising. I’ve spoken about how increasingly fragmented the advertising terrain has become. Companies and products that want to stand out have got to make a racket and one way of doing this is designing advertising and marketing campaigns that get talked about and take on a life of their own. There is probably no better way of doing this than offending one group’s sensibilities while re-enforcing and complimenting another group’s. The Fiat ad does this since it was intended for airing in Europe where Free-Tibet sentiment is high. In the European market, the ad’s message is sure to resonate and build visibility and goodwill for the Fiat brand.

  2. June 25, 2008 2:40 pm

    I have submitted your article to http://www.autocar-live.com which is a social site where users can submit car/auto articles and vote for already submitted articles. Register and vote for the article to appear on the frontpage at http://www.autocar-live.com/upcoming.php

  3. Christian permalink
    June 24, 2008 7:15 am

    using Buddhist issues to sell cars….mmmm….it reminds me of various companies that use the “fish”symbol to hawk their wares. Don’t get me wrong… I support autonomy of Tibet and I like Gere putting himself on front street for Tibet… I just need to wrap m heart and mind around it and the fishies sales symbol… Let’s face it ,though, Fiat’s apology isn’t worth the paper it is written on.

  4. June 23, 2008 5:18 am

    yeeeahhh… spineless.

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