Hoping to cash in on the retro-trendiness of BMW's Mini Cooper and other successful revivals, Fiat is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its tiny Cinquecento, or Fiat 500, with a redesign and a relaunch.
The tagline for the ad campaign?
You Are. We Car.
I read that and thought, "No, no! You car. Me Nancy!"
Or, as Google gently chided me when I searched for the slogan: "Did you mean: 'you are we care'?"
No, of course not. Are doesn't rhyme with care, silly.
So--deep breath, and apologies to all the real linguists out there--let's try to parse this thing, shall we?
You are: Usually, the verb to be takes an object: You are a driver. You are German. You are very, very cool. Sometimes, though, "you are" stands alone as the answer to a question: Who's the smartest kid on the block? You are! Either way, it needs some sort of complement or referent.
Fiat could be answering an implicit question ("Who's our target market? You are!"), but it's more likely that the company is going Cartesian on us: You drive, therefore you are.
We car: This sounds like what a couple of Geico cavemen might mumble about a vehicle. Fiat, however, wants us to think of car as a verb, possibly one that means "to embody the automotive spirit." It's Datsun's old "We Are Driven" slogan stripped down to essential nouniness. Unfortunately, also stripped of clever double meaning.
But no matter how attractive the new Fiat 500 is, "You are. We car." will always be a bad advertising slogan. To make matters worse, Fiat Germany head Manfred Kantner also offers his own translation -- rooted in existential philosophy, no less -- of the slogan. According to Kantner, it means: "You, as a person, are an individual with a wide variety of requirements, and we, as a company, are capable of satisfying all of these requirements."
I'm sure it's much more concise in the original German.
(Thanks to Paul Reinhart for the Spiegel link.)