In Renault’s inclusive LGBT + ads: ‘We never want to play creatively safe’

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Renault’s “The French Exchange” campaign may be over two years old now, but it just can’t stop winning awards. After winning a British LGBT + Award for Best Brand Campaign, the work also won gold at the British Arrows 2021 last month. Today, The Drum catches up with Renault brand manager Adam Wood and Publicis. discuss its heritage and why Renault doesn’t just want to be another car brand that plays it safe when it comes to creativity.

A bittersweet story spanning three decades of romance.When Renualt’s “ The French Exchange ” arrived in 2019, it offered a crude description of what it’s like to fall in love with your childhood friend, with the added complications of being of the same sex.

It was an instant success. Praised for its authentic portrayal of a lesbian love story that spans a lifetime but didn’t feel cliché – it also coincided with the car brand celebrating 30 years of its Clio hatchback. It was both perfect and made you want to buy a Renault at the same time.

“The most important thing for us is to always show a diverse representation of our customers,” explains brand director Adam Wood on Renault’s mission to push the boundaries in the automotive category. “All brands have a responsibility to act in ways that shape society in a positive way. We have a role to play in changing perceptions. “

There has always been a lack of queer representation in mainstream media and advertising. According to a 2019 Channel 4 report, people from the LGBT + community only feature in 3% of the advertisements in the survey, despite making up at least 6% of the UK population. With one in six Gen Z adults now identify as LGBT +, advocacy efforts must be dramatically improved in order to adapt to a rapidly changing society.

Renault and its long-standing advertising agency Publicis see themselves as LGBT + allies. From 2003, ‘Gay Cop’ sent impulses race, while in 2010 it was banned from advertising for his provocative Twingo spot. This was followed by “ Gay Marriage ” in 2012 – an advertisement that featured a surprise marriage between two men.

“We are fully aware that the last thing we want to do is do something compliant and play it safe. We don’t want to create something that looks like an automobile ad, ”insists Colin Byrne, Creative Director of Publicis • Poke, who has worked closely with Wood on The French Exchange. “Things are changing and Clio has accelerated this change.”

“We’ve always been a brand that likes to disrupt the status quo. Be brave and not be class-compliant, ”adds Wood. “We don’t want to produce mundane, derivative work.”

“Times have changed,” the slogan reads. “Twingo too” concluded the announcement of gay marriage – a technique Renault has mastered over the years, using the company’s progress as a metaphor for talking about improving its cars.

“The challenge we faced with The French Exchange was how to make sure we had the right balance. The ad must deliver in terms of product exposure, alongside a narrative that is clearly an analogy for the Clio moving forward over time, ”says Wood.

“We are deeply aware of diversity and inclusion,” says Byrne. To find the right match, Byrne reiterates the importance of ensuring that diversity is taken into account at every step of the process.

“Make sure there is representation at every stage, both in terms of hiring, throughout idea generation. It should be a representation of society – an accurate representation. “

Woods adds that it’s also important to seek diverse feedback. Throughout the work, the team worked alongside Equality – the Publicis Groupe employee network for LGBT + professionals and allies who helped guide its direction.

“The biggest test of this ad was that it was genuine – is it a believable love story? There was nothing symbolic about it. It was a believable and heartfelt story and that’s why it elicited the emotional response we wanted.

“We want to continue to portray diversity as much as possible – it’s an ongoing legacy that will continue globally,” he says, confirming that more diverse and thoughtful work is underway in the future.



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