Fiat: Branded Content Better Tell A Good Story

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Fiat is Chrysler LLC's fastest-growing brand, but a couple of years ago it experienced serious problems getting off the ground. A big piece of that was awareness among a younger, creative, urban crowd of people fitting the Cinquecento target.  

At the second day of Ad:Tech in New York, Esperansita Bejnarowicz, social media manager at Fiat USA, and Tony Mennuto, creative director at RadioFace (the creative services company behind FIAT's late-2011 custom branding strategy), talked about how late last year, the car brand grabbed this younger cohort's attention with an integrated, digital-focused campaign centered on a series of live storytelling events.

Ad:tech branded content panel moderator Avi Savar, chairman and CCO of Big Fuel, set the tone. "It's about how we leverage content to drive social at scale. We believe content is the fuel that drives engagement and conversation: act like a publisher, not a brand; lead with people stories, not product stories; create content at the speed of culture to build and grow the brand network." 

"Alternate Routes: The FIAT Storytelling Series" was created, developed and produced by creative services company RadioFace, and utilized a radio drive-time buy as part of the campaign's implementation.

The shows, under Fiat's "Life is Best when Driven" umbrella, were filmed in front of live audiences, generating long-form video, plus long radio spots on CBS radio in five major markets over eight weeks. The purpose of the ads: not so much to tout Fiat as to drive consumers online to watch the shows and learn about the brand. Thia was achieved because the radio spots were cliffhangers, said Bejnarowicz.

The video content, meanwhile, was on Fiat's Facebook page. "So we mirrored the experience in the social space following the CBS radio flighting, and we also weaved in content and stories to CBS.com." The results, she said, were over 76 million impressions over the eight weeks, with 29 million impressions online, with videos -- eight to ten minutes -- being viewed 440,000 times. "That's 59,000 hours of content consumed, which drove nearly 7,000 people to interact with the configuration and shipping too on Fiat-USA.com."

One takeaway, Mennuto said, is to "try to make your content as good as -- or better than -- the content around it; that's what we learned. Make sure your content organically fits with the brand. Real content, like stories, engages."

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