Group blasts J. Lo and her ride, citing Fiat business dealings with Iran

Jennifer Lopez is under fire over her TV ad for Fiat. An anti-Iran group is asking her to renounce her endorsement of Fiat cars if the company does not end its sales to Iran. No word yet from J. Lo.

Danny Moloshok/AP
American Idol Judge Jennifer Lopez smiles on the set of American Idol.

J. Lo, subliminal Iranian agent.

What? Well, you know those TV ads with Jennifer Lopez zipping around the Bronx in one of those new little Fiats? In the eyes of one anti-Iran group, helping to hawk Fiats makes her an accessory to Iran’s crimes, including its advancing nuclear program.

And it wants the singer and America’s favorite "American Idol" judge to stop.

It’s probably news to Lopez, but doing the Fiat ads associates her with the Iranian regime’s many transgressions, from enriching uranium and developing long-range missiles to repressing its own people’s aspirations for freedom. That’s the view, at least, of United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), a New York-based group that promotes a tough international response to Iran’s nuclear program.

In an open letter to Lopez Thursday, UANI President Mark Wallace demanded that the international star renounce her endorsement of Fiat products if the company does not end its business dealings in Iran.

“By endorsing Fiat, you are serving as a spokesperson for a company that freely does business with a regime that is developing an illegal nuclear weapons program, financing and sponsoring terrorist groups including al-Qaeda, has killed American and NATO soldiers and is recognized as one of the world’s leading human rights violators,” wrote Mr. Wallace, who served under the George W. Bush administration as the US representative to the United Nations for UN management and reform.

In its letter, UANI says a Fiat subsidiary, Iveco, sells and distributes trucks in Iran that the regime has used to transport missiles. The group also claims that the trucks have played a role in “gruesome public executions.”

At the same time, UANI sent a letter to Fiat Chairman Sergio Marchionne demanding that the Italian company, which now owns 60 percent of Chrysler, cut its ties to Iran.

UANI asks for a response from Lopez by Jan. 18, but the singer has not responded publicly and her agent has so far declined to comment.

Product endorsement is a lucrative endeavor for celebrities and the companies whose products they peddle, but it can also bite back in unexpected ways. Tiger Woods quickly became a liability for the companies whose products he endorsed after his fall from grace. Celebrities have been burned by their association with what turned out to be “blood diamonds.”

This is not the first time the Fiat ads have landed J. Lo in hot water. Her fans in the Bronx, her hometown, were not amused when it was revealed that the streets she plies in the ad, which she declares are in the neighborhood that “inspires me to be tougher, to stay sharper, to think faster,” are actually in Los Angeles. Oops.

It's hard to know if the charges UANI labors to make in its letter will be deemed credible by Lopez, Fiat, or the public. By making the Fiat ads, the group says, Lopez is supporting a company that buoys a regime that persecutes many minorities and dissidents.

“Political dissidents, human rights activists, labor leaders, women, ethnic and religious minorities, homosexuals and students in Iran are routinely detained incommunicado and beaten, raped, lashed and subjected to inhumane forms of physical and psychological torture.”

UANI has tried before to persuade Fiat to stop doing business with Iran, via newspaper ads and a protest at the New York International Auto Show last year.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of 5 free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.