March 2014 FEW Meeting Recap: Love Branding: Fiat 500 in Japan

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Recap: “Love Branding: Fiat 500 in Japan”
FEW Meeting March 13, 2014
Speaker: Tiziana Alamprese

By Christina Hanazawa-Gallagher, Vice President of FEW

You would think that being hit by two Fiats while walking would have been enough motivation for Tiziana Alamprese, Marketing Director for Chrysler Japan, to work for another automobile company. But, she is not like any other person.

Armed with her personal philosophy, “keeping my identity is my mass,” Tiziana, FEW’s March 2014 speaker, has risen up the ranks in Chrysler and she is behind Fiat’s wildly successful rebranding of the Fiat 500.

With her balloon style pants, “these are Japanese (construction) worker pants” and a long, Vivienne Westwood-esque, fitted blazer, it’s not hard to believe that Tiziana has not only kept her own identity, but also made it possible for her customers and staff to do the same.

When she started rebranding the Fiat 500 a few years ago, she had a minimal budget and was competing in a very saturated, compact-car market. Despite the odds, she encouraged her staff to pay attention to numbers, but also to “do as your guts tell you to do…If you are the boss and can make a difference, even if it is a small change, do it.” She also vowed “we can’t do it like the others.”

The result was making people fall in love with the Fiat 500 by allowing people to connect with the Italian culture, which included launching the Fiat Caffé in Aoyama.

The café’s slick white and red interior is the height of Italian posh and has enabled Fiat to increase the percentage of female, Fiat 500 owners from less than 15% to 60%. “The café helps women feel comfortable. They can meet the car and they can meet the Fiat culture.”

But, the café almost didn’t happen. “No one wanted to support me at HQ because the idea was not from a big man, or a big marketing company.” Frustrated, she travelled to Cuba and serendipitously saw a humble Fiat café ran by a local distributor. “I thought if they can do it in Cuba, we can definitely do it in Japan.”

Now, the café along with other initiatives such as community outreach in Tohoku and a powerful social media movement (Tiziana said they have a higher social engagement ratio than Uniqlo) have boosted Fiat 500’s appeal beyond aficionado collectors, who couldn’t bear to see others driving the car.

Tiziana credited a lot of her success to being a “fighter and not a soldier.” “ The more authority they (bosses she was trying to persuade) had, the more fighting I was doing. This was a process that kept me down. I always had to do 3X’s more than a man…. If you want to be there, there are many wars.”

Given this, she still prefers having a leadership role in Japan than in Italy. “I struggle with teamwork. It’s a power game in Japanese companies. I speak really frankly to my team about all the things I do not like. In Japan, I feel much more free (than in Italy) because I am foreign and a woman. I’m so special that they don’t know how to handle me.”

Thanks Tiziana!

Speaker: Tiziana Alamprese
Marketing Director, Chrysler Japan
My working life is rich and fulfilling because I like to put my heart & soul in whatever I do. Happiness for me and my coworkers is the simple objective that I try to reach every single day at work: this is the way to make also our Customers happy! If you want to understand what I mean, please come to the Fiat Caffe’ in Aoyama, Tokyo. With the help of few believers, I’ve created a place to experience the good energy that can be brought together when people work in a happy way! Of course, Fiat sales are growing, in a shrinking Japanese Market……..because happiness is contagious!