What CEO in their right mind would stake their reputation and career on withdrawing their most popular product from the market?
Grey has been the best-selling car colour in the UK for the past five years, accounting for more than a quarter of all new car sales last year.
But last week Fiat CEO Olivier Francois announced to the world that grey’s days were numbered.
Grey may be safe, dependable and a steady seller, but it’s not very Italian.
So, as a brand that has always sold itself as being a little slice of La Dolce Vita, Fiat says it has decided to ‘stop the production of grey cars’.
Not content with upending decades of car making orthodoxy, Francois literally immersed himself in the brand’s new dedication to colour.
In an eye-catching TV ad (which recalls colourful classics of the past, such as Fallon’s Balls for Sony Bravia) a Fiat 600e containing the CEO was suspended from a tower crane and dunked into a giant pot of orange paint.
In an era when so much marketing chooses to play it beige, this campaign truly stands out for its sheer audacity.
The brand could have stopped at making an ad, but committing to ending production of grey cars altogether has turned this into a news story and a conversation topic that has crossed national boundaries.
Bold yes, but also beautiful.
Time will be the judge of whether this proved to be a masterstroke or a moment of madness for the Fiat brand.
If British car-buying preferences are anything to go by, the lack of grey options could mean thousands fewer sales in the short-term. But wholeheartedly committing itself to colour and a life less ordinary feels authentic, positive and a genuine point of difference compared to the brand’s competitor set.
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