The Internet’s TV Invasion: How FIAT’s Latest Campaign Mines for Viral Gold

fiat gif

FIAT is no stranger to memorable marketing. The Italian car company announced their return to America after an 20-year hiatus with the “Immigrants” campaign, a groundbreaking piece of creativity that showed the FIAT 500 traversing the Atlantic ocean from Italy to land on American shores.

Now FIAT is caught-up in another kind of migration: bringing internet content to the realm of TV. In their latest “Endless Fun” campaign, FIAT is thinking big for a new kind of commercial. Featuring GIFs created for the internet, the latest TV spots are making headlines for their innovative approach.

Denizens of the internet are no strangers to GIFs. The animated image format, first created in 1987 (and, according to its creator, pronounced “jif,” not “gif”), has since become a medium for some of the internet’s most viral content.

Easy to create for those with a little savvy, GIFs have exploded in the last decade as a cultural phenomenon on social sites like Tumblr and Reddit and further popularized by viral-machines like Buzzfeed. The concept of “Reaction GIFs” has spawned countless websites and even an app.

GIFs have also been a godsend to marketers looking to connect with younger demographics on the internet. As Buzzfeed Senior Creative Strategist Joe Puglisi noted,

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, a GIF is worth 10,000. GIFs are a mini-vehicle for storytelling, capturing emotions and communicating them in a concise way that words and pictures alone cannot.”

FIAT certainly isn’t the first to use GIFs in marketing. Dogfish Head ran a lauded campaign with a series of beautiful GIFs that brought their beer-making process to life. And whether or not companies realize it, users are constantly generating their own GIFs to celebrate their favorite TV shows and products.

But FIAT really embraced internet culture on their own Tumblr page and created a series of funny, strange and irreverent GIFs to celebrate their cars. And then they took a risk. While GIFs are a powerful tool in internet marketing, can that success translate to TV?

Olivier Francois, Chrysler CMO, decided to find out. He told Adage that the commercials were an “experiment,” with a relatively low risk: GIFs happen to be very cheap to produce.  “Crazy weird. Crazy fun. Crazy cheap to produce as well. Maybe a new culture of commercial,” he said.

The “Endless Fun” campaign features four 15-second and 30-second TV spots with music from electronic artist DJ Diplo. While these spots contain FIAT-generated GIFs, they hope the format will invite users to submit their own with the hashtag #MyFIATUSA.

Some are funny. Some are just downright weird. But one thing is for sure: these commercials are likely to captivate their audience and leave a lasting impression.