Automotive advertising shifts gear

Automotive advertising shifts gear
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November 21, 2004 The success of a new advertising campaign from Citroën marks not only a coup for the company in the promotion of its latest model - the C4 - but a more general trend in automobile advertising that aims to grab the attention of an ad-weary public using an off-beat, creative edge. This trend (most notably demonstrated by the Honda Accord Euro 'Cog' television commercial of 2003) sees the C4 promoted by sophisticated animation in the form of a dancing robot. By generating a ‘wow’ factor rather than presenting the consumer with ‘just another car on the road’, Citroën has also benefited from widespread distribution of the ad via viral email networks .

The talents of Justin Timberlake's choreographer, the same animation techniques used to make 'Finding Nemo' and Les Rythemes Digitales are combined in C4 advertisement which was conceived by the Citroën creative team at Euro RSCG's London office as a 'teaser' campaign.

The ad features a Citroën C4 Coupe that, sensing it is alone in a car park, transforms into a towering robot that dances to electronic dance-pop hit 'Jacques Your Body' before turning back into the C4 Coupe as its owner approaches.

The distribution of the ad through email is also notable in that it demonstrates the growing legitimacy of ‘viral marketing’ campaigns – a trend set to continue as the Internet enters its second decade.

Based on the theme "Alive with technology" the campaign alludes to C4 features such a fixed centre steering wheel, lane departure warning system, programmable speed limiter and even an on board air-freshener that enables owners to vary the scent in the car to match their mood.

Justin Timberlake's choreographer, Marty Kudelka, provides the moves for the C4 Robot. He was fitted with a special suit with laser motion sensors that enabled a computer to digitalize his dance movements and convert them into the moves for the entirely computer generated robot. Equally, a Citroën C4 Coupe was digitally scanned and the car in the mini-movie also exists only in the computer's memory.

"It was certainly an unusual challenge," says Marty Kudelka. "I tried to imagine myself as the robot with mechanical movements to capture how it would realistically move, which parts of the car would bend and overlap and then simply let myself go. Effectively I became the C4 transformer, listened to the music and let the dance flow!"

The animation was produced by Spy Films in Toronto, Canada, with the post production created by Vancouver-based video effects house, The Embassy. The technology used is the same as that used by Finding Nemo creators, Pixar.

"Building a Citroën C4 transformer that moved believably like a dancer was the ultimate animation challenge," says director Neill Blomkamp, who was acknowledged as the best up and coming film director at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival.

The award winning Honda Accord Euro 'Cog' television commercial of 2003, will still be recalled by many readers on account of the same ‘wow’ factors that have made the C4 ad a success. It featured a rolling cog that sets off a domino-type chain reaction along a painstakingly set up selection of new Honda Accord components including walking wind-screen wipers and a ‘windshield mobile’. The two-minutes long advertisment, made by Wieden & Kennedy (UK) cost $2 million, took five months of planning and 606 takes to complete. For five months in a studio in Paris, the Cog creative team worked on pre-production, testing and re-testing different car parts in different sequences to ensure that the entire sequence could be shot in one perfect take.

The Citroën C4 Robot can be viewed at

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