Loving Renault’s new sustainability ad

Yesterday, I caught my first sight of Renault’s new TV ad trumpeting its action on sustainability and, I have to say, I was hugely impressed. Amidst all the other ads of the ilk of the “new, more fuel efficient Audis” and BMW’s “efficient dynamics” it really stood out, and here’s why…

Asking the really big question
It’s an oft-quoted line on innovation – Henry Ford’s observation that if he’d asked his customers what they’d wanted, they’d have asked for faster horses. If Renault’s ad and their new Sustainable Mobility website are anything to go by, they’re looking way beyond simply producing less polluting, more fuel efficient cars. They’re actually asking themselves whether the car, as we know it, has a future as a sustainable means of transportation and what might replace it.

Systems thinking
The messaging is also spot on when it challenges the exclusive focus of many manufacturers (and indeed many customers) on vehicle emissions. It points to the need to evaluate and address environmental impacts right along the value chain and at every stage of the product life-cycle – from design and manufacture right through to end-of-life recycling.

Balancing short- and long-term objectives
The ad closes with a sight of Renault’s new mass market electric cars, available from 2011 – all-electric vehicles with zero CO2 or pollutant emissions. Take a look at the Building the Future segment of their website, and you see that this is not the be-all end-all of their strategy; rather it’s just their response to the requirements of the immediate future, balanced by longer-term objectives including the development of hydrogen fuel cell technology.

Renault may not be alone in all of this (indeed I posted over a year ago on Top Gear’s feature on the Honda Clarity), but it’s the first auto manufacturer I’ve seen that’s really nailed what it means to be sustainable in an ad campaign. In so doing, they may well have leapfrogged to the head of the pack in terms of public perception.

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