Renault Clio

Renault's UK comms director on why Va Va Voom 'never really went away'


By Katie Deighton, Senior Reporter

May 20, 2016 | 4 min read

Renault Clio is in the midst of a campaign that harks back to its 'Va Va Voom' creative of the early noughties, with an aim of reaching new and younger customers.

Va va voom

A spot by Publicis London – the first TV ad for the Clio since 2009 - kicked off the initiative, drawing attention to the car's 25th birthday and its "style icon" credentials.

"But the 30-second slot doesn’t give you time or space to tell a broader story that many people want to hear," Jeremy Townsend, communications director at Renault UK, told The Drum. And making a car sexy and stylish is not an easy task, no matter how many Thierry Henrys you can throw at an ad campaign.

The auto brand's solution was to go all-out on its Parisian heritage by erecting a seven-metre high Moulin Rouge-style birdcage in in London's King's Cross. In a nod to the 'love-locks' adorning French bridges, a number of padlocks were secured to the installation, and passers-be were encouraged to try their luck at unlocking them for a chance to win prizes.

For Renault, the activation was all about finding the car new and younger customers.

"We wanted to get people interested in buying a new Clio, and to recommend it to their friends via pictures and video of the installation with their social networks," explained Townsend. "We smashed our target footfall numbers, and generated millions of social media impressions, massive PR value with key target editorial placements in the likes of Glamour, Stylist, The Metro and The Evening Standard and ultimately leads from new, younger customers."

The next step is a wide-ranging, content-led PR campaign. Renault is planning "editorial pieces" looking back at the iconic moments over the last 25 years, an influencer engagement campaign and videos on how to unlock your inner 'Va Va Voom' presented by First Dates’ Fred Sirieix.

Clearly targeting the younger driver – who may not even be old enough to recall the original 'Va Va Voom' ad – the creative does not explicitly mention the phrase. However, Townsend commented: "Culturally speaking, 'Va Va Voom' has never gone away – it entered the Oxford English Dictionary in 2004 and five million of us use the phrase regularly, and it will always implicitly personify Clio’s emotional qualities - exciting, passionate, sexy.

"Explicitly, we won’t use it in advertising, but readers, bloggers and influencers want us to reflect the car’s heritage, because it’s fun and authentic, as much as show how the car has evolved into the exciting, sexy machine it is today."

Clio is pretty lucky to have coined a cultural phrase, and it wouldn't be the first brand to revive an historic campaign. For the comms director, this is not laziness, but strategy: "Nostalgia is always a very powerful thing, as it creates an immediate emotional connection with the audience.

"We’re in a privileged position in that 'Va Va Voom' resonates with our loyal audience built over 25 years, but also the younger generation who’s looking for a cool, sexy and fun car."

Renault Clio

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