A collection of Italian themed marketing campaigns to make you cringe.

A while ago I wrote a post about the hilarious (at least, in my mind) reactions of American consumers to two Italian themed marketing campaigns: one by Target for Chef Boyardee, and the other by Häagen-Dazs for a new gelato line. In that post, I joked about how there seemed to be an overwhelming American response that resembled a collective cringing and repulsion when it came to two examples of ads that played up the sexy side of Italy.

Well, if those two made everyone cringe, these may solicit shudders!

Here is a collection of Italian themed ads (mostly directed towards Americans, but also Australia and UK) with a few more gems that I have stumbled across recently. Perhaps it’s just me, but I feel like there’s been a rash of them lately!

When they are all together like this, you can’t help but feel bad for the poor Italians who don’t fit this stereotype but have to put up with it constantly. Of course, if you’re female, you also can’t help but note the genius of the marketing scheme to anglo ladies.

First, there’s the Zesty Italian guy… who isn’t actually Italian himself, but no one cares:

Then there’s this guy… there are no words to describe what you’re about to see… Just watch.:

This is one of a series of similarly themed ads for various gelato flavors that seemed to get people riled up:

This is another Häagen-Dazs one that didn’t make my last post:

Then, there’s this Fiat 500 commercial, where the car comes with your very own Italian family:

It just goes on and on when it comes to Fiat, of course:

Anyone have any more to add to the collection? What do you guys think about these? Unfairly perpetuating Italian stereotypes or cleverly playing on what some view as Italy’s charm?

10 thoughts on “A collection of Italian themed marketing campaigns to make you cringe.

  1. Pingback: What do Chef Boyardee and Häagen-Dazs have in common? | Married to Italy

  2. Well, personally, I love the FIAT ads (and not least ‘cuz I’m a car buff hailing from Detroit) – Cringeworthy?
    I take much more offense to the MAFIA DON ads that no one seems to care about (save for the anti-defamation people at the NIAF).
    And, for truly cringing…try your standard fare Italian TV & print ads – you know, replete with racist stereotypes, topless women to sell everything from fruit juice to mobile top-ups, to plumbing…!

    But, still, you got a point.

    FMaggi, Author
    Burnt by the Tuscan Sun

    • Hi FMaggi, oh I love the FIAT ads too! I think they’re hilarious, personally. I would imagine that not all of your Italian counterparts would agree, though… are perhaps I’m wrong. I think the longer I’m here, the more difficult it is to gauge typical Italian reactions – perhaps because “typical” seems to vary depending on who you’re talking to.

      I don’t know the Mafia Don ads… I’ll have to look those up – do you have a link? I completely agree about mainstream Italian media – it’s the reason I don’t have a TV here.

  3. Hi M, I think the point here is that the ads are designed for the American public, who cherishes a certain post-war image of Italy as the land of romantic love and chaotic yet affectionate families. The music changes in Europe where, for example, Fiat (or rather their PR team) produced a brilliant ad for the UK market centered on mothers. British ones, though. Have you seen it?http://youtu.be/eNVde5HPhYo
    So, to make a long story short, I think the American public is just more receptive to an idealized, stereotyped image of Italy and that is still a good marketing tool.

  4. Just a quick clarification (I’ll update the post as well) – my use of “cringe” was not meant to imply that I am, in fact, cringing. I was referencing the last post I wrote on this subject, in which I talked about how Americans were cringing about Italian themed ads.

    I’m not trying to make any specific “point” – just putting the collection out there to see what you guys think of it! If anyone knows of any more, let me know – it’s quite interesting to see them all together, I think. 🙂

  5. Yikes! I’ve only seen the gelato one and it definitely grossed me out! All of these are so… stereotypical. And I mean, come on!, I don’t want a naked dude (of any nationality) walking around near my food.

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