AUTOMOTIVE CAMPAIGN: Fiat stunt drives sales of new Cinquecento

The Fiat 500 - or Cinquecento in its native Italy - has been popular across mainland Europe since the 1950s.

The launch event for the Fiat 500 was held at the London Eye
The launch event for the Fiat 500 was held at the London Eye

Campaign: UK launch of Fiat 500
Client: Fiat Group Automobile UK
PR team: Paul Ridley Ltd
Timescale: November 2007 to January 2008
Budget: £50,000

In 2007, Fiat launched a new version of the car in mainland Europe, with the UK launch taking place early in 2008.

Paul Ridley Ltd was hired to ensure the consumer media covered the UK launch event, which was organised by marketing firm Arc Worldwide.

To position the car as a stylish, affordable choice for young, urban customers. To increase sales and orders.

The launch event was held at the London Eye. A car was placed in one of the capsules to highlight its small size.

The event started at 8pm on 21 January, exactly 500 hours into 2008. It also incorporated a music concert to appeal to younger customers.

Paul Ridley's role was to drip feed information about the event to features and picture editors as well as the broadcast media. This included confirmation of the acts playing, including Mika, The Feeling and The Vibrants. The invite-only audience was made up of about 1,500 Fiat enthusiasts and winners of competitions, created for the campaign by MediaVest and run on Virgin Radio and Channel Five, among others.

The remaining tickets were reserved for Fiat VIPs. These included suppliers, as well as celebrities selected by Paul Ridley. Kelly Osbourne and Capital FM breakfast DJ Johnny Vaughan were among those that attended.

The event was also transmitted live to local launch events taking place at Fiat dealerships across the UK.

The launch received 327 print mentions, including coverage in Hello, OK and Closer. Regional press mentions included the Evening Standard and the Newcastle Journal. All coverage picked up on key messages linking the Fiat 500 with style and urban living. Virgin Radio covered the event with regular live updates on the night.

The number of hits on Fiat's UK website more than doubled around the launch, from an average of 175,000 to 370,000 during January. Fiat initially constructed 3,500 Fiat 500s for the UK, but demand has rocketed, and 8,500 orders have been taken to date.

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