The Mégane Experiment – Can a car change a town?

The Mégane Experiment, created by Publicis London, is a marketing film for Renault that shows an actor named ‘Claude’ who goes to Gisburn, Lancashire, where there are no Méganes, and tries to convince the local population that a Mégane can change their lifestyle, health and enjoyment of driving by telling everyone he meets that he is a ‘joie de vivre’ expert Menton, Côte d’Azur, France, where there are many Méganes.

The campaign
Our challenge was to raise awareness of the Renault Mégane and position the car as ‘anti-bland’. Statistical research (towns with more Mégane had a higher fertility rate) pointed to a powerful thought: Mégane was a bringer of joy. More Mégane, more Joie de Vivre. And the most powerful way to promote this thought was to test it through a real experiment: could an English town with no Mégane embrace the French way of life and the car that epitomises it?
We approached the experiment like a documentary and produced an entertaining eleven minute film about how a car changed a town. The fully integrated campaign including TV, press, online display, and PR generated £1.8 million of earned media, 417,873 unique microsite visitors and over 313,000 YouTube views.
This is the next generation of advertising. Not just making a bold claim, but taking a product truth and proving it on air with real people.

The success of this campaign rested on directing our audience to to follow the progress of the experiment. Once there, they could witness Claude’s struggle with the Gisburn residents and the Joie de Vivre impact of the car. Media were chosen to build as much noise as possible, earning news and entertainment media coverage.

The teaser phase of TV, online display and national press introduced our spokesperson Claude (and his Facebook page) plus the two towns involved in the experiment (Menton, Côte d’Azur and Gisburn, Lancashire).
Ten days later the campaign launched with PR, TV, national press and online display.

Versions of the documentary film were seeded on Facebook, YouTube and blogs. Following the launch activity, Renault Dealers each hosted their own Festival de Joie test drive weekend, supported by regional press and online display.

Finally we used bus-sides and press wraps to build on the earned media.

Since the launch of the campaign, Mégane market share has not fallen below 5%, and in fact sales increased by 52% across the year! We generated £1.8 million worth of earned media and 417,873 unique microsite visitors. Rich banners achieved 0.28% CTR (double automotive industry norms), YouTube content exceeded 313,000 views and throughout the campaign, Claude conversed with 15,000 Facebook ‘friends’.
Brand tracking measures show prompted ad recall reached 23.6% (compared to 11.5% average).
Focus group attendees told us:
· “That one for the Renault Mégane RS, with the yokels driving. That’s really funny – and the car looks good.”
· “It’s funny, its real people and its personable”
And our client told Campaign Magazine:
“We wanted a campaign which broke from the norm, so a humorous, light-hearted Anglo-French cultural comparison works well for our brand.”
And finally, yes a car really did change a town.

Phil York, Marketing Director, Renault UK, said: “We wanted a campaign which broke from the norm, so a humorous,  lighthearted Anglo-French cultural comparison of two such distinct villages works well for our brand. The Mégane is an iconic symbol of French ‘joie de vivre’ and we’re hopeful that getting more of them on the road over here will not just bring a little more happiness to the residents of Gisburn, but also  the rest of Britain too.”

Advertising Agency: Publicis, London
Executive Creative Directors: Tom Ewart, Adam Kean
Creative Director: Ed Robinson
Art Director: Robert Amstell, Matthew Lancod, Paul Belford
Copywriter: Robert Amstell, Matthew Lancod, Ed Robinson
Designer: Paul Belford
Production Company: Smuggler
Director: Henry-Alex Rubin
Year: 2011
2 Silver Lions (Media & Titanium)