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Dacia 2014 IPA Effectiveness Awards Shortlist Interview

This launch campaign by Publicis and Manning Gottlieb OMD for Renault's Dacia model used the slogan “You do the maths” to emphasise the car’s good value and delivered a short-term ROI of £4 for every £1 spent.

Dacia-Making-frugality-payQ1. When and why did you decide to launch a campaign?

EP: “Dacia has been a successful brand across Europe and 2013 was the turn for us to launch in the UK. We decided to have a six month pre-launch to hit our launch date with a good level of pre-orders.

“We looked at opportunities, knowing that we wanted Dacia to behave differently, to mix things up in the car market. The Goodwood Festival was the natural choice. Launching a value car brand at such a prestigious event definitely announced Dacia in the manner we wanted.”

JE: “At the end of 2011 our client revealed that Dacia would be launching its products in the UK, revealing the cars and brand for the first time at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in mid-2012.

“The cars themselves wouldn’t be on sale until January 2013. Knowing the UK car market and the scale of the plans that Renault had for the new brand, we knew that Dacia would need to make a big splash if it had any chance of succeeding. And so the brief for the launch campaign was born.”

Q2. How did you feel about the original brief?

EP: “The launch of a new car brand in the UK is a rare event.  It’s a great opportunity to have a blank canvas to work from.”

JE: “Very excited. It’s once in a blue moon that you get to launch an entirely new car brand in the market - the last truly new mass-market brand to hit the UK automotive market was Daewoo, in the mid-1990s.  Since then, brands like Chevrolet and Chrysler have entered the UK, but their American heritage is so well known, that they hardly count as new brands.”

Q3. How hard was it to get the campaign signed off?

EP: “The campaign has always had strong internal support because it’s so true to the DNA of the Dacia brand.”

JE: “Right from the off, we (the client and agency) knew the sort of area that we wanted the brand to play in. In late 2011, we initiated brand positioning customer research that started to ask questions about the vulgarity of status symbols and the appeal of the no-nonsense ‘Ronseal’ approach. With the research results in mind, we explored areas around shocking affordability, clever simplicity and the people’s champion.

“By early 2012 we had agreed on the Dacia manifesto, a brand positioning and tone of voice from which we created the ‘You Do The Maths’ campaign. So it was relatively easy to get agreement on the campaign idea.”

Q4. When and how did you first know that you had been successful?

EP: “When the manifesto was written, we knew that the timing of the campaign and launch of the brand were perfect.  The validation of this was the strong reaction during the pre-launch phase.  We received 1,200 pre-orders, all with a £100 deposit.” 

JE: “From the moment the TVC aired in mid-January 2013, we knew that the campaign would be successful.

“Immediately, we saw hits to Dacia.co.uk spike as the TV ads aired – a direct result of multi-screening TV viewing.

“Within the month, we could see via the client’s campaign reports that not only did web hits correlate with TV advertising, but so did lead volumes, test drive requests, and sales orders.”

Q5. What was the biggest challenge in demonstrating the effectiveness of your work?

EP: “Showing the impact of above the line advertising on commercial gain can be difficult. But with Dacia, we could see the impact instantly when we were on air.

“Then seeing visits translate into leads and later sales that could be matched back to the lead proved beyond doubt how successful the campaign was. The bigger challenge is monitoring the brand health of Dacia.”

JE: “The biggest challenge was accounting for the impact of the Dacia’s USP, its low price. For once, having a unique selling proposition was a barrier to campaign success rather than a boon.

“We always knew that Dacia’s low price would make the cars attractive to a larger audience, but we also understood that low price would bring connotations of ‘cheap and nasty’.

“So our strategy was to make a virtue out of the low price – making Dacia the smart choice, not the desperate choice. This meant that price was intricately tied to the creative idea, and unravelling its effect from the communications required the efforts of a good econometrician.”

Q6. How did this campaign compare to previous campaigns by the brand and competitors?

EP: “Dacia is all about breaking the rules.  We looked at what we could do differently both creatively and with media buying.  An example would be how we planned the follow up TV campaign with 20-second spots.  A 20-second TV advert is a very unusual spot length for a car manufacturer, but we still achieved good level of standout vs. competitors.”

JE: “This was the first campaign for Dacia in this country. However, compared to the launch campaigns in other European markets, the UK outperformed the first year results in all countries bar France. By month 15, the UK sales results had outperformed France as well.

“Compared to other automotive brand launches in the UK, our campaign outperformed everything that had gone before, becoming the best ever first year performance of a new car brand.”

Q7. What lessons did this campaign teach you?

EP: “To start from the beginning and not assume that certain behaviour is necessary just because that’s how it’s done in the car industry.” (For more on themes in automotive marketing, see analysis piece here.)

JE: “There are several lessons here. First, to create a great brand you should look no further than the product, the price and the people within an organisation. Dacia has a strong ethos and sense of purpose that helped to shape the creative brand campaign in such a way that everyone at Dacia could support it and believe in it.

“Second, don’t try to hide perceived negative aspects of the product. Instead of shying away from the brand’s cheap prices and Eastern European heritage, we have embraced these aspects of the brand and made a virtue out of them.”

Q8. What were the low points/high points of this campaign?

EP: “High point was the reaction to the TV adverts. Internal and external reactions were so positive from the start.

“The low point was the realisation that we couldn’t do all the things we’d like to within the tight constraints of the budget.”

JE: “Our initial communications success coincided with news that the client was struggling to fulfil orders. The product was being shipped to the UK from India and increasing delays were causing a backlog that saw many people cancel their orders. This low point was made all the worse knowing that our media spend was limited and that we’d need to divert funds from print and digital into TV to keep awareness high while distribution was sorted out.

“However, from August 2013 onwards not only had distribution issues been sorted out, orders had already reached our initial base target for the year and were on course to beat the stretch target too. And throughout the year we continued to see spikes in visits to the web page whenever TV was on air – it proved to us very early on that we had a winning campaign on our hands.”

Q9. What would you do differently if you did this campaign over again?

EP: “Take more risks with the earlier advertising to be more controversial.  We aim to make ‘You do the maths’  a slogan that is widely used in our language and associated with Dacia.”

JE: “The easy answer is to say "spend more". With a limited budget and the product distribution issues at the beginning of the year, a lot of the media spend was diverted into TV. However, we continued to develop innovative print and digital work that is only now (18 months after launch) getting to see the light of day. With more budget available, I believe we could have broken the 1% market share barrier within the first 12 months and really shaken the car market.

“Creatively, I think the campaign really captured the ethos of Dacia and gave the brand a distinct personality, unlike any other car brand. I wouldn’t change anything in this respect.”

Q10. If you could have worked on one, other IPA award-winning campaign over the years which would it be, and why?

JE: “The M&S campaign, This is not just advertising by RKCR/Y&R (Grand Prix – 2006).  I enjoyed the way this campaign redefined not just the M&S brand and reignited the business, but also created a whole new genre of advertising with the product unashamedly placed at its heart.”

Last updated 08/09/2014

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