Renault isn't in the United States just yet, but the automaker is using a U.S. TV show of yore for creative ideation around a global campaign — in English — for its New Trafic light commercial van this week. The effort, via global social media firm We Are Social, borrows the talking-car concept and its hero/driver from the U.S. TV show “Knight Rider. ”
The campaign, "Trafic Rider," hitting 15 markets including the UK, France and Germany, will promote the New Trafic’s key features as well as positioning Renault as an online innovator in the competitive utility vehicle sector, per the automaker.
The short film on which the campaign is focused launched Sept. 2, targeting small business owners in the trades. It stars a fictive Michael Craftsman, who is based on David Hasselhoff’s Michael Knight. The video, extended to social with the hashtag #TraficRider, shows the regular Joe performing hero-type moves with the talking commercial van to do things like bring a moped into his shop for repair (he rides it into the van through the open rear gate as the van is driving itself), and paint road stripes. The van even has the scanning red lights that indicate that the car is thinking, or mulling, or whatever it does.
To promote the launch of the film, which will have subtitles in multiple languages, Renault will run behind-the-scenes content on its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram channels in multiple markets. To extend the film, the campaign includes a social media kit by the agency centering on a microsite showcasing the launch content, plus video teasers, online banners, backstage pictures and GIFs, meant to generate buzz on social media.
Caroline Méchaï, director, global advertising and media at Renault, said in a statement that the campaign is meant to go more broadly than to just craftspeople. “This is an unprecedented initiative for a Renault LCV. The intention is to give Trafic a more dynamic image and reach out to a broader audience than just business users.”
The TV show's talking car, KITT, has been used in a couple of ad campaigns overseas, including for U.K.'s Kwik Fit auto repair and aftermarket-parts chain and in an unlikely pairing in 2011, for Muller Dairy in Shropshire. Samsung made passing reference to the car in its campaign last year for its Galaxy Gear smartwatch. And expect a lot more: the motion picture is reputedly on its way, although with Siri, telematics and OnStar, it might be a challenge to make it science fiction at this point. Which is why the Weinstein Brothers Studio film may go with parody, as — word has it — comedian Danny McBride and comic actor Chris Pratt will star.
Said Clement Chapillon, group account director at We Are Social France, which has offices in New York, London, Paris, Milan, Munich, Singapore, Sydney and Sao Paulo: “We wanted to play on the cult-like references of ‘Knight Rider.’" The agency counts Adidas, Heinz, Kimberly-Clark, Mondelez, Heineken, EBay, Intel and Expedia among global and regional clients.