2017 marked the 40th anniversary of Renault’s involvement in Formula One racing. We talked to Groupe Renault’s, head of department marketing communication motorsport, Andreea Culcea, and Google EMEA regional auto lead, Damini Lykidis Diehl, about this milestone and the digital campaign it inspired.
It’s unusual for a well-known, storied brand like Renault to forgo the pull of traditional media when launching a new campaign, but that’s exactly what the company did in launching its first digitally-led campaign across the EMEA region. Renault Sport’s head of marketing communication, Andreea Culcea, and Google EMEA’s regional auto lead, Damini Lykidis Diehl, spoke with us about the thinking behind the Renault Sport Bootcamp campaign and how gaming, YouTube, and a very special prize came together to reintroduce Renault to Formula One fans.
Can you tell us about the Renault brand prior to launching this campaign?
Culcea: Overall, Renault is one of the most successful team in Formula One history, but nobody knew about it. We had been making engines for winning cars for years, but the issue with being an engine supplier in Formula One is that people talk about the car when it wins, but about the engine when it loses. That’s why we decided to come back as a team.
We needed to look at Formula One as a marketing opportunity instead of just a means of proving our technology.
Diehl: 2016 was a very important year for Renault. It marked the company’s return to Formula One as a team, and because of that it felt very natural for us to go visit our partners there to see how Google could help keep the momentum going.
What were the campaign goals?
Culcea: Our focus was on reaching our existing core audience but also, finding a new, younger target with millennials and bringing them to Formula One. We wanted to bring this new audience backstage and give them a behind-the-scenes look at our team, our drivers, and the exciting world of Formula One.
It was also important that the campaign defined our voice and positioning in a way that fit in with existing Renault brand values.
Diehl: We had to strengthen the association between Renault and Formula One’s values of performance, technology, and sheer passion. And we needed to do that while targeting millennials who were tech savvy, interested in content, and really enthusiastic about Formula One.
Tell us a little about how Renault, Google ZOO, and the other agencies involved came together and the campaign they created.
Culcea: The brief for Google ZOO, We Are Social, and the other agencies we worked with (TRO, Mobile 5, and OMD) was to create a campaign that built awareness of Renault and it’s return to Formula One racing. To do that, we created a multi-phased campaign called Renault Sport Bootcamp that launched with a series of online games.
These mobile mini games tested international, die-hard Formula One fans on key racing skills like eyesight, coordination, and reaction time. The five high scorers got to come out to Enstone, our Formula One training base, and run through a series of bootcamp challenges. In the end, our final winner got to drive a full lap in a Formula One car and meet his hero, our Renault Sport Formula One driver Nico Hülkenberg.
Diehl: We also enlisted the popular Formula One YouTuber, xMattyG1. He participated in our bootcamps at Enstone and documented everything in a series of YouTube videos. Having a YouTube influencer on site was key. Matt is known for being super-passionate and knowledgeable about Formula One, and he not only brought his own followers and audience to our campaign but also lended a certain credibility and amplification to our efforts.
Culcea: The collaboration with Google ZOO and our other agencies was very enriching. I believe all three players learned from each other to ultimately help us evolve in a territory that’s brand new for us. We all worked together in a new way, starting from the first idea through the very end of the campaign. I think this sort of collaboration is the way forward.
“We also had hundreds of thousands of views of the bootcamp videos on YouTube, which in itself is a huge success story.”
What did the campaign achieve?
Culcea: We had thousands of players try our mini games, and more than 60% of them were millennials. So we certainly succeeded in reaching the new target audience we were after. Some of our gamers were really fanatic about it and were spending their evenings after work playing these games over and over, trying to get the highest score.
Diehl: We also had hundreds of thousands of views of the bootcamp videos on YouTube, which in itself is a huge success story. And the fact that Renault wants to do a second season of the bootcamp signals that we met the goals we set out to achieve.
How will the Renault Sport Bootcamp campaign extend into the future?
Culcea: This was our first attempt at reaching millennials, and we need to continue attracting Formula One fans outside of our core audience. To do that we need to continue launching innovative marketing campaigns, social campaigns, web campaigns, games, and other activations that speak to these people and show them a different side of Renault and Formula One. We also plan to include more influencer personalities in our strategy for 2018. Moving forward, Renault will be leveraging its affiliation with the e-sports world to reach millennials in new and innovative ways.
Diehl: This was a purely digital campaign, which was unusual for such an established and historic brand—typically with established brands like Renault there’s a push toward TV and other more traditional media. We can’t wait to see how we can grow Renault’s digital presence with the next iteration of campaign, so stay tuned.