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商业 - 汽车

菲亚特在纽约SoHo区华丽转身

Alex Taylor III 2011年05月27日


    上周在纽约SoHo区被雨水浸润的弹石路上,20辆崭新的菲亚特(Fiat) 500 Cabrio轿车一字儿排开,是在干什么呢?

    答案自然离不开汽车业的复杂性以及在美国重塑一个陷入困境的老品牌所面临的挑战。既需要吸引注意力,需要打造形象,还需要一些富有亲和力的劝导。

    2012年,又称车型年,美国市场预计将推出37款新车或重新设计车型,汽车生产商们要想让其新车不泯然于众,就必须竭尽全力吸引眼球。如果一款新车在上市头几周内无法成为市场关注热点,就会流于平平,无法带动热销。

    要抓住上市之初的宝贵时机,汽车生产商和营销公司认为媒体关注度至关重要。这不仅仅是曝光——广告也能做到这一点——但只有媒体能够提供的第三方曝光极具价值,特别是对于像菲亚特这样正试图走出多舛过去的品牌。

    传统的新车媒体发布活动往往选在遥远的休闲度假区:空间宽敞,道路不挤,没有其他什么东西会分散注意力。新车成为当之无愧的明星。

    那么,菲亚特怎么能将新车停在接近纽约Holland隧道入口的繁忙街道上?拉斯维加斯都订满了吗?

    自从27年前菲亚特终结了其在美国市场上的廉价进口车形象后,该公司已脱胎换骨成为一个具有意大利血统的高端品牌——虽然这多少忽略了一个事实,即菲亚特是克莱斯勒(Chrysler LLC)的企业合作伙伴,菲亚特汽车其实产自墨西哥。

    敞篷版500 Cabrio具有柔性线条,丰富的车身颜色选择,颇具设计感的内饰以及低实用性,绝对是一辆不折不扣的时尚汽车。因此,菲亚特在纽约SoHo区租下几个月的店面,在店里摆满时髦的意大利手工艺品后,将新车停放在了店门外。然后,菲亚特安排了140位记者来访——大多数都是企业支付一切费用。

    记者们在一周内分4拨抵达,前夜在附近一家酒店进餐和住宿后,第二天全日参加菲亚特活动。在企业演示结束后,记者们两两一组,从路边停放的20辆车中挑选一辆,开始穿越哈德逊河谷的一日游。最后在吃好喝好(无烈酒)后,菲亚特将记者们各自送到机场,坐上回家的航班。

    在纽约举行任何这样规模的活动,都要求缜密的规划、超一流的后勤管理,再加上一点点运气。要在曼哈顿下城为20辆汽车洗车、加油和停车,绝非易事 ,但菲亚特在附近找到了一个车库解决了所有这些问题。当20辆车都由不熟悉纽约市交通的记者们驾驶时,要让所有车都没有划痕和凹陷,也不容易,但所有车辆均毫发无损。而且此类活动之后,组办方很可能还要与不同地区的执法部门打交道,但这次没有收到一张违章停车单或传票。

    只有一个美中不足。敞篷版500 Cabrio比硬顶版贵4,000美元,个中缘由是它有一个可折叠的帆布车顶,可以亮出所有炫目车内元素。但在5月份的第二周,纽约每天都在下雨,这次没有什么机会折起帆布车顶。

    菲亚特此次的曼哈顿活动是否能收到预期效果,在更多报道出来前尚不可知。初期报道是积极的。与此同时,组织此次活动的部分克莱斯勒人员已开始在准备下一款新车上市活动——这次将在遥远的俄勒冈边远林区,主角是粗犷版Jeep Wrangler。邀请函将陆续发出。

    So what were 20 brand-new Fiat 500 Cabrios doing lined up on the rain-soaked Belgian paving stones of New York's SoHo last week?

    The answer has to do with the complexity of the car business and the challenge of reintroducing an historic but troubled brand in the U.S. The pieces of the puzzle include attention-getting, image-building, and some friendly persuasion.

    With 37 new or redesigned models due to be introduced in the U.S. for the 2012 model year, car manufacturers must scramble to break out of the pack in order to get attention for their products. If a new model can't develop a public profile during its first weeks on the market, it can become stuck in neutral and never develop momentum in the showroom.

    To catch that early wave, manufacturers and marketers have determined media attention is vital. It isn't just exposure -- advertising can generate that -- but the third-party exposure that only the media can provide that is so valuable, especially for a brand like Fiat trying to redeem its troubled past.

    The traditional launching pad for new model media events are remote, vacation-oriented resorts with ample space, uncrowded roads and few distractions. The car becomes the star.

    So how did Fiat wind up parking its cars on a busy New York street close to the entrance of the Holland Tunnel? Was Las Vegas booked up?

    After its last appearance in the U.S. as a bargain-priced import car ended 27 years ago, Fiat has given itself a makeover and remerged as a high-style brand with Italian roots -- more or less ignoring the fact that it is a corporate partner of Chrysler LLC and the car itself is made in Mexico.

    The 500 Cabrio with its feminine lines, broad-spectrum color palate, designer interior, and minimal functionality is the ultimate fashion car. So Fiat rented a storefront in SoHo for a couple of months, filled it with trendy Italian artifacts, and parked its cars out front. Then it arranged for 140 journalists to visit -- all-expenses paid in most cases.

    The journalists, who arrived in four waves throughout the week, were fed, housed overnight in a nearby hotel, and then immersed in Fiat lore the next day. After a presentation, they paired up, picked one of the 20 cars parked curbside, and drove away for an all-day jaunt through the Hudson River Valley. After being appropriately (sans alcohol) wined and dined, Fiat transported them individually to one of the area airports for the plane ride home.

    Holding any event of this scale in New York requires careful planning, superior logistics, and a bit of luck. Washing, fueling, and storing 20 cars in lower Manhattan is no easy trick, but Fiat found a nearby garage to handle the duties. Keeping 20 cars free of scratches and dents when steered by drivers unfamiliar with New York City traffic isn't easy either, but no sheet metal was harmed. And despite ample opportunities to engage law enforcement officials in numerous jurisdictions, no parking tickets or summonses were distributed.

    There was a single setback. The 500 Cabrio carries a $4,000 price premium over the hardtop version for a single reason: It has a canvas roof that can be rolled back to expose the elements. But there were few opportunities to do so in New York during the second week in May because it rained every day.

    Whether or not Fiat's big splash in Manhattan paid off won't be known until news stories start appearing. Initial reports are favorable. Meanwhile, some of the same Chrysler people who dodged the rain and traffic were preparing for their next new model launch -- this one in remote backwoods Oregon for the rugged Jeep Wrangler. Invitations will be in the mail.

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