Bastien Schupp, vice-president for global brand strategy and marketing communications at Renault, told Campaign that the previous strategy focused almost entirely on the 4% of consumers who are "in-market" at any given time. This had caused serious damage to Renault’s brand, which was perceived as having "lost its soul".
The new approach intends to make the brand more relevant and meaningful to consumers.
Renault ran high-profile campaigns in the 1990s and 2000s featuring the Papa and Nicole characters and Thierry Henry.
The new campaign, by Publicis Conseil, launched in Renault’s home market of France last week. It is the culmination of seven years of work to overhaul the vehicle range and brand identity. Renault will roll out the campaign – comprising TV, outdoor and digital – in the UK later this year. The out-of-home ads are designed to have a premium feel, with Renault branding not immediately apparent.
The company’s previous car designs were seen as so bland, Schupp said, that in some markets the main reason for purchase became value for money. He admitted that when he joined Renault sister brand Nissan ten years ago, there were no Renault models that he would have chosen to drive himself.
Convincing the board, dealerships and his own marketing colleagues of his new strategy had been "a massive task", Schupp said. This is because it was "much more reassuring to put a big discount on TV to hit your sales numbers" than to create marketing that develops the brand.
The same was true of digital channels, Schupp added: "We all say ‘the agency’s not digital enough’ but the way we work makes it easier for the agency to come to us with a TV script."
Getting people to reappraise Renault meant tackling what Schupp called "voluntary blindness" – where consumers "have such a fixed image of Renault that they don’t notice we’ve changed, so we needed to send a wake-up call".