By Jennifer Geiger on March 2, 2012
If J.Lo couldn't sell Fiats, does Charlie Sheen have a chance? Chrysler Group is launching a new ad for the Fiat 500 Abarth model staring the troubled bad-boy actor and his electronic monitoring ankle bracelet. Luckily, Catrinel Menghia, the Romanian model who starred in the car's "Seduction" Super Bowl XLVI commercial also makes a cameo in the new ad.
In the 60-second "House Arrest" spot, Sheen, badly in need of a haircut, joyrides through the hallways of a party-filled mansion behind the wheel of a Fiat 500 Abarth. He power slides to a stop and exits the Abarth with his house-arrest ankle monitor on full display. Sheen, prone to outrageous media stunts and incomprehensible rants, is an unlikely spokesman for the Fiat brand. Or is he?
Fiat Brand Communication Manager Ariel Gavilan recently told Cars.com that he was pleased with consumer response to the 500 Gucci edition, but the brand would like to cast its net wider and appeal to a more masculine audience. The ad seemingly does just that, and its tagline emphasizes the audience it's chasing: "Not all bad boys are created equal."
"The Fiat 500 Abarth is the 'small but wicked' personality of the Fiat 500, and this spot captures that attitude and spirit," Olivier Francois, worldwide head of Fiat brand and Chrysler Group's chief marketing officer, said in a statement. "The Fiat 500 Abarth is the bad boy of the Fiat vehicle lineup and Charlie Sheen personifies the edgy and fun attributes of the Fiat 500 Abarth in 'House Arrest.'"
The 500 was launched last year in the U.S. and greeted with a lukewarm customer response. If you're like me, the 500's advertising campaign confused from the start. Fiat parent-company Chrysler's "Imported From Detroit" tagline, coupled with the 500's Italian heritage, Jennifer Lopez's Puerto Rican background and Bronx roots formed a head-scratching mix of counterparts. Unsurprisingly, the ads left most consumers cold; slow sales prompted a marketing shakeup.
We expect the new Abarth model, with its boosted horsepower and sporting pretensions, to inject some heat into the lineup and sales figures – with or without Charlie Sheen. Watch the full ad below.
Assistant Managing Editor Jennifer Geiger is a reviewer, car-seat technician and mom of three. She wears a lot of hats, many of them while driving a minivan. Email Jennifer