Fiat swerved off the road this week and nearly wrecked its brand in Argentina when hundreds of people started protesting its shockingly sexist drivers' manual on Facebook.
The car company was forced to apologize after suffering a wave of backlash for a poorly thought out booklet called the “good use guide,” which is full of sexist advice such as using the heater to get girls to take off their clothes, or putting women in short skirts in the back seat to avoid distracting the driver.
Although the booklet is intended to be a funny companion to the main user guide that comes with new Fiats in Argentina, it appears to be causing more outrage than laughter.
Here are some of the most outrageous tidbits from the Fiat Argentina manual.
“The person who sits next to the driver as a copilot must talk to the driver. If the copilot is not a good conversationalist, he should at least know some jokes, or if it's a girl, she must at least have good legs.”
If our companion is a lady and her skirt is too short, we recommend you keep your concentration and put her in the backseat. If the skirt is not that short but the driver likes to grope with his hands, she should also sit in the back.
RIGHT OF WAY
“You must always cede right of way, but an exception can be made if the girl driving the other car is really hot, or if you find something attractive about her.”
It’s useful to know that the car horn is an extension of our emotional state. Therefore we recommend it be used in the following circumstances:
- To tell a friend to hurry up cause you’re late for the football match
- To honk at a girl who brightens up our day
- To celebrate a championship or second place finish
- To greet newlyweds
- To imitate a song we like
DRIVING WITH LOVE
“To behave like a gentleman you must remember that if your partner, girlfriend or lover is traveling with her friends, you must be the chauffeur for each one of them, assuming the role of an alpha male and dropping each one off safe and sound at their home.”
Remember to avoid slamming on the brakes if your female companion is putting on her make-up.
The cover for the “good use guide” says the booklet aims to be “fun” while telling drivers how to enjoy their new Fiats. The Italian car maker also provides a serious drivers’ safety manual with its vehicles.
But in the end, the joke seems to be on Fiat, who was flooded with criticism on social media and forced to issue an apology earlier this week.
“We lament the impact that (the manual) had. Its aim was never to disrespect our community,” Fiat Argentina said in a tweet. The company later added that the booklet has been removed from Fiat dealerships.
Curiously, the manual had been in circulation since 2015, but wasn't a cause of controversy until this week, when Argentine anthropologist Agustina Altman shared photos from the booklet on her Facebook page. The post was shared 1,800 times, and was eventually noticed by mainstream media.
“This post had an incredible repercussion,” wrote Facebook user, Paula Rocio.
The sexist drivers' safety manual was written for Fiat by Leo Burnett, an American ad agency with offices in 69 countries. Leo Burnett works with the world’s largest companies, and has created famous ad characters like Tony the Tiger, and the Marlboro Man.
Interestingly, the ad agency won a local prize in Argentina for its Fiat campaign. But few at the agency are celebrating that now.
Manuel Rueda is a correspondent for Fusion, covering Mexico and South America. He travels from donkey festivals, to salsa clubs to steamy places with cartel activity.