Auto brand to copy sports-apparel industry’s marketing approach

By our African Marketing Confederation News Team | 2024

Automaker Fiat plans to sell its funky 500e electric car in North America using ‘shock drop’ marketing tactics similar to Nike.

‘Shock drops’ have become a common marketing tactic in the US sports apparel industry to create instant hype around a new product or product spin-off. 

The Fiat 500e. Photo: Fiat

Brands such as Nike and its Jordan sub-brand, for example, have used the tactic to great effect when launching limited editions or special editions of sneakers and streetwear.  


Shock drops typically involve unexpectedly making a small quantity of highly desirable products available online for a short time only. It creates social media and influencer hype, and typically demand from brand-aware customers exceeds supply. 


Now the well-known Fiat automaker says it intends to use the same marketing approach to create public interest in the new Fiat 500e, a small and funky electric car that can be easily customised to create different model options. 


Instead of traditional advertising campaigns, the brand will launch different versions of the 500e in the same way that sports apparel brands ‘drop’ new products and special editions. 


In an interview with the industry trade publication, Automotive News, the head of Fiat in North America, Aamir Ahmed, explained why the company is breaking new ground in automotive marketing. 


“We’re going to more closely align ourselves with fashion and apparel in how we launch vehicles,” Ahmed explained.  


Tactic lends itself better to a digital campaign 


“That’s done for a reason, because [it] lends itself better to a digital campaign than what we’ve done in terms of an auto show. I can’t afford to do an auto show reveal every few months to introduce a new version of the car, right?  


“It’s not sustainable. So, what we’re going to do is we’re going to continue to drop vehicles. We’re going to find creative ways to do that digitally.” 


Rather than trying to sell in big numbers, Fiat says would rather have the 500e be an “experience” for customers. 


“We need to make sure that we deliver on what the brand promises – and that’s ‘joy’ and ‘happiness’ and ‘love’, and making sure the car manifests all that.” Ahmed said. 


Technology brands have also taken to using shock drop marketing, with the technology trends website, Builtin.com, reporting that it has become more commonplace. 


“For decades, drops have been integral to the word-of-mouth marketing efforts of streetwear and sneaker brands. The controlled, sometimes surprise, release of limited-edition products generates and accelerates hype, brand loyalty and community engagement,” Builtin.com says. 


“Lately, though, drops are making their way from physical goods to software services, as some companies apply the buzz-building strategy to their digital product releases.” 


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    Dr Kin Kariisa

    Group CEO - Next Media

    Dr. Kin Kariisa is an extraordinary force at the helm of Next Media Services, a conglomerate encompassing NBS TV, Nile Post, Sanyuka TV, Next Radio, Salam TV, Next Communication, Next Productions, and an array of other influential enterprises. His dynamic role as Chief Executive Officer exemplifies his unwavering commitment to shaping media, business, and community landscapes.
    With an esteemed academic journey, Dr. Kariisa’s accolades include an Honorary PhD in exemplary community service from the United Graduate College inTexas, an MBA from United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya, a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Huazong University in China, and a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics from Makerere University.
    Dr. Kariisa pursued PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. As a dynamic educator, he has shared his expertise as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at both Makerere University and Radboud University.

    Dr Kin did his PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radbond University in Nigmegen, Netherlands. He previously served as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and Radbond University in Netherlands.

    Dr Kin did his postgraduate courses in Strategic Business Management, Strategic Leadership Communication and Strategies for Leading Successful Change Initiatives at Harvard University, Boston USA.

    • Other current and previous roles played by Dr Kin Kariisa:
    • Lecturer of e-Government and Information Security to graduate students at Makerere University, Kampala and Radbond University in the Netherlands
    • Director of Eco Bank Uganda Limited, one of the largest banks in Africa
    • Chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters, an umbrella industry association for all Television, Radio and online broadcasters in Uganda.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Nile Hotel International, that owns the leading hotel in Uganda, Kampala Serena Hotel.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Soliton Telmec Uganda, the leading telecom company in Optic fibre business managing over 80% of optic fibre in Uganda.