Two advertisements for Fiat cars are currently being shown on Italian television; in the first, French people look at the camera and say merci, and in the second Germans look at the camera and say danke to the Italian public, for buying cars produced in France and Germany. The message Fiat hopes to get across is that Italians would do better to buy a vehicle made in Italy.
The advertisements have come in for strong criticism in Germany where the daily newspaper Frankfurt Allgemeine Zeitung has published an article entitled Fiat seeks salvation in an anti-German campaign. The article calls the advertisement chauvinistic and scandalous and underlines that it is no coincidence that it was launched on 25 April, the 60th anniversary of Italian liberation from Germany. Joachim Blueher, director of the German cultural institute in Rome, has written to Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, president of Fiat, and has told him that he feels injured and saddened by the campaign which also uses German gothic script, traditionally associated in Italy with the Nazi SS. Finally BMW, the German car manufacturer, has said that it does not appreciate the patriotic hypocrisy of Fiat and has reminded the Italian public that BMW spends 450 million annually buying car parts produced in Italy. So far the French have not said anything.