Blog: Fiat's apology to China
Dave Leggett | 24 June 2008
Apologies are often necessary (tell me about it), but it's best to avoid having to find yourself saying sorry if at all possible.
The thing with Fiat's Lancia Delta ad featuring Richard Gere playing with Tibetan boy monks is that it looks blindingly obvious that the Chinese wouldn't like it. Either someone made some crass errors and failed to do any research at all during the creative phase or the judgement was made that it was perhaps a bit edgy but wouldn't cause a serious fuss. But this is the year of the Beijing Olympics! Tibetan protesters have been making the most of that and this ad was certainly a bit of a coup for them given that Gere is in it.
Fiat's subsequent apology hasn't really done any good. The damage was already done, the horse had bolted. And the impression given now is that Fiat has cowtowed to Beijing, feeling the need to publicly apologise for a TV ad featuring a car, an actor and some children who are also Buddhist monks. Saying sorry draws more attention and doesn't look too clever does it? There's nothing to actually apologise for, even if some people in China don't like Gere or the fact that there are Tibetan/Buddhist images in the ad. Sometimes it's better to just let things blow over.
Mind you, I expect someone in Turin is saying sorry for a misjudgement on the campaign in the first place. And that might be an apology that is needed.
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