Fiat is back in partnership with "Funny or Die" the seven-year-old comedy sketch site started by Will Ferrell and his production company. The new effort, “Neighbors,” in which ad agency Doner was also involved, comprises five webisodes about a middle-aged family's dealings with new neighbors who are Italian.
The stories, the first of which started in June, all feature the 2014 Fiat 500L. The serial narrative follows a neurotic suburban American obsessed with things like gluten, who interacts with new neighbors, a family from Italy that has no American-style hangups.
The effort is getting a promotional push on TBS TV channels and on Turner’s digital sites. Funny or Die's advertising placement is handled by Turner's ad sales department, per a release on the campaign, which said ad deals with the comedy site include placement on "premium comedic content," plus promotional scale with Turner’s portfolio, including TBS and Adult Swim. The effort also includes a Fiat sponsorship of “Funny Or Die Soccer Week,” a weeklong programming event featuring soccer-themed videos and articles.
"The Fiat brand’s playful personality and Italian heritage give us license to find new ways to tell our brand story. Partnering with Funny Or Die, which has a huge built-in fan base and social media following, has proven to be a winning formula for us,” said Olivier Francois, Chrysler Group CMO.
In the first episode, the suburbanites meet the sexy, stylish Italians next door. The latter happen to drive a Fiat 500L, so the car is worked into the episodes, each of which involves miscommunications, hijinks and various embarrassments. In one, the two Americans go to dinner at the Italians' house because "Nonna" has arrived to cook pasta, cannoli, and bruschetta. The Americans try to explain that they don't eat gluten. Mistranslations about glue, celiac disease, etc. abound. Another has the American husband drinking way too much espresso in an effort to impress the father next door.
A Twitter component lets people follow via hashtag #italianneighbors. The company says the posted webisodes are so far “Funny” based on Funny Or Die viewer ranking.
Last year's Funny or Die effort with Fiat, "Backseat Italians," centered on a conceit wherein people who buy the Fiat 500L get a family of Italians in the back seat. Hijinks ensue, but so does the implied message that the vehicle can seat an entire family of Italians in the back seat. Francois said the latest program has brought higher web traffic, "and this deeper engagement with our brand ultimately leads to Fiat Studio visits.”
Funny Or Die says it gets more than 19 million unique users per month, and more than 60 million video views per month. The site also says it has more than 8 million Twitter followers -- and at about 8.5 million Facebook fans, is the top comedy brand on both sites.