Renault claims 5000 new Clios were sold within five days of its
launch and that it has already broken its target to shift 40,000 within
a year (Marketing, last week).
A campaign of mega-hype hit its peak on the day of the launch, May
The ad, featuring comedians Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer, hit the screens
and the new Clio became the most successful small-car launch ever.
Renault PR co-ordinator Nikki Horton says the PR plan didn’t get into
gear until January because the company couldn’t decide which agency
should handle it. In the end, Beer Davies, with its experience in
promoting the likes of Barbie’s relaunch, won.
The brief was straightforward; to maximise publicity for the ad in which
Nicole would marry a mystery man and drive off in the Clio.
’In the past seven years, we’ve created a national icon in Nicole,’ says
Renault advertising manager Ken Pritchard. ’It gave us the opportunity
to make sure everyone in the country knew we had a brand new car in a
way that our competitors could never match.’
The car’s launch was timed to give at least a clear six weeks before
blanket World Cup coverage blotted out everything else.
A mailshot was sent to 350,000 people on the Clio database in March
inviting them to see the car at a local showroom. Advertorials were
booked in Vogue, Tatler, Vanity Fair, Esquire and Radio Times.
The Clio was shown to the motoring press throughout April with copy
embargoed until May 6. Just as this news was emerging, around 3000
wedding invitations were sent to national and local press.
The invitations asked journalists to join Papa at the wedding of his
beloved daughter, Nicole, on Friday, May 29 on ITV at 7.40pm and attend
a pre-wedding breakfast at the Savoy the day before.
That week, Nicole and Papa actors Estelle Skornik and Max Douchin were
brought over for press and radio interviews.
’We’ve been careful to protect them up to now,’ says Pritchard, ’but
this was the moment to let rip.’ Douchin appeared on Radio 4 and the
pair made numerous local radio links and gave a long interview to the
’Wedding photos’, taken by Richard Young, were released showing the
bride having her hair done by Nicky Clarke, along with scenes from the
ad. The pictures were distributed by Rex and were picked up by many
papers, including front-page coverage by the London Evening
’Timing and secrecy were our biggest worries,’ says Eugen Beer, a
partner in Beer Davies. ’We had all sorts of contingency arrangements in
case the mystery groom’s identity got out ...’
When Vic and Bob were introduced at the Savoy pre-wedding breakfast
attended by 30 photographers, the story appeared in every national paper
except the FT and The Independent. Ten members of Nicole’s Internet fan
club also attended, sporting ’Don’t do it Nicole!’ banners. ’They added
a certain frisson,’ Beer says.
’Keeping the synergy of every element in the campaign while maintaining
the secrecy was the conundrum,’ says Pritchard. His only disappointment
was failing to get TV coverage of the event.
The hype appeared to work. Mark Payton, group editor of What Car?, said:
’It’s a more grown-up car and I think they’ve achieved a clever
strategic realignment with Nicole’s new relationship.’
This article was first published on Marketing