Media: Strategy Analysis - Selling small cars to the inner child

Brand: Renault Modus

Client: Jonathan Wignall at Renault UK

Brief: Launch the new Renault Modus in the UK by building strong

awareness and developing a fun personality for the car

Target audience: Upmarket families

Budget: £6.5 million


Media: Julie Blake and Dino Ioannou at Carat

Creative: Publicis

Ambient: Posterscope

STRATEGY The launch of the Renault Scenic in 2003 was recognised for its innovative use of ad-funded programming. Carat was asked to top this in 2004 with the launch of the Renault Modus, a fun, affordable, small car designed with ample space.

The campaign had to build a personality for this new brand, as well as achieving high levels of awareness across the UK. Carat's goals required moving far beyond the high volume of ratings or posters that car launches traditionally rely upon. Building an endearing, childlike personality for this fun car was crucial.

The TV creative drove this personality with the strapline: "Grow up, what for?" Carat based communications around the idea of "brightening your day", bringing colour into people's lives to make them feel positive about the car.


- Television: On the eve of the launch weekend, the TV activity kicked off with a one-hour TV roadblock. The 60-second spots aimed to optimise awareness and lay the groundwork for the colourful days ahead.

After the launch weekend these were replaced with shorter executions that would run for three weeks, with periodic bursts for a further two months.

- Outdoor: Thousands of highly colourful six-sheets were posted the night before the launch for maximum co-ordinated impact, along with lenticular designs, 48-sheets and screens throughout the UK.

Multi-coloured coffee-cup sleeves distributed via Coffee Republic helped people wake up in the morning.

- Press On: the launch day, Guardian readers found a game of "Find the Modus" in their newspaper. The Daily Telegraph created a one-off tabloid, The Daily Splat, covering stories from the world conker championship to super puddles - the first to be produced by a national title for an advertiser.

Large-scale display ads were also placed in the mid-market and popular press, with advertorials in key magazines.

- Cinema: A 60-second spot ran in two films, The Terminal and Wimbledon, while Renault Modus representatives distributed "Grow up, what for?" sweets in cinemas.

- Online: As well as online ads, there was a Yahoo! homepage takeover and a "Grow up, what for?" viral e-mail game.

- Radio: The central idea, spot the Modus, was designed to build on the fun theme and get the Modus noticed on the streets. Ten cars were uniquely decorated to reflect their childlike personalities - as a peacock, a rainbow, hot air balloons and so on. The cars then embarked on a six-week tour of the UK supported in each region by a "Win a Modus" radio competition, kicking off on Johnny Vaughan's breakfast show on Capital.


Trade results for the launch are not yet available, but Renault's advertising manager, Jonathan Wignall, says: "The Carat team delivered in spades.

It proposed a number of innovative ideas which contributed to the objectives, many of which were either media or Renault firsts."


Mark Palmer - executive head of strategy, OMD UK

Modus launched into the "cheeky chappie" sector where the likes of Mini and Smart had successfully gone before. There was something to work with, £6 million and the "Grow up, what for?" positioning, but this was very much a curate's egg of a launch.

Good for me The "Find the Modus" idea in The Guardian hit a good balance of personality, relevance and cut-through, which ended on a large reveal of the car.

The radio campaign and competition, with ten special cars on tour, was hard-working with dealer visits in mind.

Bad for me The Daily Splat 24-pager in The Daily Telegraph arrived rapidly and sank like a souffle without an established brand idea to lean on.

The full creative reality of the online game consists of a man with a briefcase running and occasionally jumping.

Getting " Grow up, what for?" established as an idea was, by default, going to be via TV. TV either needed to be a more fundamental part of the menu than its 55 per cent budget share, gain presence by being condensed or standout via targeting, or link more overtly into other media. Beyond the first two weeks, a reasonable TV presence was stretched too thinly over a period of nine weeks. The 60-second spot was seen by the audience only once over the first few days. It got an airing in cinema (with sweets and postcards), but only in the films Wimbledon and The Terminal. Again, this feels like an indulgence or a compromise.

Perhaps these films reflect targeting by attitude, lifestyle or age?

However, this wasn't a route followed in the selection of TV or press.The older Telegraph was the preferred title for reaching the "inner child" audience, with 11 insertions and a 24-pager. The Independent, by contrast, received just three. The Observer ran the most insertions of any Sunday, with two.

I applaud the enthusiasm. This feels like a plan the media agency had to develop backwards from a TV ad. Treading the fine line between witty and puerile, between relevant brand cut-through and indulgent stunts, was never going to be easy. Regardless, more focus on the basic menu, portions and real audience were needed. Exotic dishes still need to be cooked.