Is Fiat taking VW’s US positioning?

The week before last, I was in Los Angeles for the auto show.  There were a number things that were interesting, but for me, the most interesting was the introduction of the Fiat 500 to the US market. The Fiat 500 represents the re-introduction of the Fiat marque to the US and thus garnered quite a crowd at the press conference:

As we watched Laura Soave, Fiat’s head of marketing, introduce the Fiat 500, I couldn’t help but lean over to a colleague and say “Fiat is taking Volkswagen’s US positioning.”  The presentation was full of “Italian passion” which might have been code for a youthful, fun, engaged approach to driving.  Here’s a video/ad:

“Fiat. Life is best when driven.”  Wow, that sounds an awful lot like “On the road of life, there are passengers and there are drivers. Drivers wanted:”

I recognize that there are differences between the two, for example VW hung its hat on German engineering to support “Drivers wanted.” We don’t know what Fiat will do from here, but it is clear that they are positioning the 500 as fun, young at heart and for those engaged in life and driving, the core elements of VW’s past positioning.

Good for Fiat.  It’s a good positioning and it’s available!

VW has forsaken a strong brand positioning in favor of “mainstreaming” their brand so they can chase volume in their quest to become the largest global manufacturer. Read my earlier post on this topic.

VW’s loss may prove to be Fiat’s gain.

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