Citroën’s senior vice-president of worldwide advertising communications, Arnaud Belloni, is very French. Whether it is his unabashed passion for the auto business or linking the model’s autonomous automotive concept to the ‘gilets jaunes’ protests, Citroën’s prime marketer embodies most of the qualities one may affiliate together with his house country.
As Citroën celebrates its 100th anniversary, Belloni’s passion is palpable. He tells Advertising Week: “The important thing vision for [founder] André Citroën was he needed to make a automotive for all. In 1919 in Europe the only people who have been capable of buy automobiles have been wealthy.
“Citroën set up production like Henry Ford in the US. He was producing a big number of cars and was able to downsize the price. He didn’t want to do a super car for the rich but a sophisticated car for everybody.”
100 years later and André Citroën’s vision is still on the heart of the model.
When Belloni arrived at Citroën in 2016, his first port of call was extensively researching the founder – even interviewing his nice grandson. What he found was a spirit of innovation, both in automobiles and in advertising, that he needs to mirror in its centenary.
“For me it is very important to listen to the heritage of the founder,” he explains. “I’ve read lots of books and interviewed the good grandson. When Citroën created the company electrical energy was in all places, that’s why we lit up the Eiffel Tower with Citroën’s identify on it [for a marketing promotion in 1925 that lasted for nine years].
“When airplanes were getting big Citroën took the opportunity to write the name [in the sky] in 1922 at the Paris Motor Show. Citroën was always inspired by constant innovations.”
There are three key pillars to Citroën’s 100th birthday advertising marketing campaign. First, is enjoying up its iconic standing. Second, is making certain that it is future-looking. Third, is harnessing the facility of social media.
To have fun its previous, the brand created a graphic design specifically for the anniversary and expanded its merchandising line, ‘Citroën Origins’, to incorporate new mugs, monopoly and card games.
This is partially to “play up” its iconic status nevertheless it is additionally a nod to the founder, who believed in the significance of merchandising
Belloni explains: “Citroën said ‘I want every kid in the world saying mummy, daddy, Citroën’. The first thing he did was [produce] small cars for kids.”
It additionally created a digital museum that is out there in 60 markets and explains the historical past and story behind 80 iconic Citroën automobiles. Regardless of being launched two years prior to his arrival, Belloni says it had the anniversary in thoughts when it was created.
He says: “We built a virtual museum for the entire planet. Not everybody has the opportunity to come to the Citroën museum in Paris so it is very important to bring the museum to everybody at home.”
Why automotive brands will nonetheless be key
Belloni is also keen to ensure the anniversary showcases Citroën’s imaginative and prescient for the longer term.
This yr the automotive marque is launching two new autonomous automobiles. The primary, the Ami One, is designed for short-haul journeys in metropolis centres, while the second – the identify of which is as yet unknown however will embrace a “nod” to the anniversary – is for longer haul.
“Everybody is going to be in the city so you need a short-haul mobility solution that is easy and shareable but at the same time people would like to escape from a city and so will need long distance devices,” Belloni explains.
“This [autonomous and electric] future is going to disrupt the way we use cars. The time you will spend in the vehicle, it will be time dedicated to yourself. You will not focus on the road instead you will watch a movie, you will write or you will think.”
Belloni says electric automobiles will mean more refined interiors. Because electrical engines are smaller, there is extra money and area to spend money on add-ons reminiscent of seats that grow to be beds, WiFi and an expansive sound system.
We should keep in mind artistic. If our job is only metrics and gross sales, this is not the same job.
Arnaud Belloni, Citroën
“When you’ll travel you’ll rejuvenate you,“ he says.
The advertising round Ami One is also meant to rejuvenate shoppers. Belloni describes it as a “a militant testimonial in favour of modern mobility” to fight those that say the automotive business is in decline.
The video begins with a combative assertion: “We are told the car belongs to a century past”, which Belloni initially needed to exchange with “politicians”.
He explains: “The automotive world is changing. There are loads of politics people who attempt to clarify to the general public that there is no future for automotive.
“These people are totally wrong and they are committing a big mistake. Automotive was the tool to liberate people. Automotive liberated people to travel and people to go to work.”
Belloni adds that the general public still care deeply concerning the automotive business, linking it to the populist French yellow vest protesters the gilet jaunes.
“Gilet jaunes started because politics raised the price of petrol and people couldn’t go to work anymore in their car. People are searching for freedom and people don’t want politics to constrain their freedom and automotive brands like us need to make sure there is continuity in their freedom,” he says.
Belloni also believes automotive manufacturers will stay necessary, with shoppers still in search of design, innovation and flair, not just perform.
“A lot of people are considering that autonomous will imply [the car industry] will never be the same and disappear. Actually it is going to be much more fascinating. Don’t imagine that folks utilizing an autonomous automotive for 500 kilometers will not have an interest in the design of the automotive. They are going to be.
He adds: “People will still continue to buy and share cars that they like. I don’t believe in the world where car is going to become a facility.”
The automotive market could also be changing however so too is advertising, based on Belloni. He factors to the truth that the sheer amount of content material marketers need to supply now has increased dramatically.
He explains: “The best way we market at the moment is totally different from yesterday. Once I began we have been utilizing TV, print and out-of-home and that was all. If you look right now we produce 20 items of content for every type of media.
“If I take the example of comfort. I need to explain comfort on Facebook, Instagram, my website, to journalists and so on, and for each item I don’t use the same concept. On Instagram I will be much more artistic, on Facebook much more emotional. It’s a massive portfolio of content.”
Whereas others may reminisce concerning the good previous days Belloni is enthusiastic concerning the opportunities now.
“It pushes us to explain much more. Social media has changed people radically so they are searching for more storytelling. They can now understand more things at one time. It is more rich and a fantastic opportunity to explain where we are and why we’ve done this.”
Belloni is clear that whether or not it is social media or TV, “creativity is key”. He explains: “This is exactly where a lot of brands are failing. We must remember creative. If our job is only metrics and sales, this is not the same job.”
However, the model carries out rigorous testing together with social media listening and pre- and post-testing of its campaign films. Nevertheless, it remains cautious of relying too heavily on creating campaigns that may hit sure KPIs.
“If you do so, you are very often going short term and it’s dangerous. My job is to have a vision, to create value to make my brand stronger. If sometimes on a short-term basis there is bad news, I need to stay strong and carry on. This is something that CEO Linda Jackson gave to the company a lot, to really give trust to the vision and give trust to the strategy.”
Balancing velocity and quality in advertising
Trust was needed when Belloni was tasked with overhauling the advertising manufacturing course of to ensure the 10 campaigns it needs for 2019 have been produced in the area of six months. This required high-level organisation: 15 totally different Citroën automobiles in action over four weeks of filming.
Belloni explains: “I stated last yr to Linda [Jackson, CEO] I need to do one thing disruptive because we have to supply extra material and we have much less and much less cash. The only means is to anticipate and produce on the similar time all the material.
“We gave the brief one year ago. We did the creativity in June, July August and we did the pre-test in September and shot in October and November. All the movies are different but they were shot all in the same time, with the same production team and one director to reduce cost considerably.”
Belloni says the transfer has had “no negative impact on the quality” and it is implementing the identical strategy again approving the campaigns for 2020 this month.
Since he started in 2016, Belloni has been acutely aware about changing advertising to suit the buyer.
In 2017, the corporate launched ‘La Maison Citroen’ – smaller showrooms situated in city centres. Citroën discovered that clients visiting showrooms favor spending their time behind the wheel because they have achieved nearly all of research at house. The showroom has just two automobiles on show, a tech wall and a small café and dialogue space.
There are now La Maisons throughout India, North and South America, India and Asia. Whereas there aren’t any in London but, 40 more are launching by the top of this yr.
This means to be disruptive is what drew Belloni to Citroën, alongside a sense of nationalism.
“The model is a disruptive brand and there is a number of area to actually innovate. There is a short chain of choice. It’s like a startup world. We are working in an open tempo like a magazine. None of us have a closed workplace. We stay all together and we are very quick to determine and to anticipate.
“If one day I have an idea in the night and I arrive at the office at 7.30am and Linda is there I tell her the idea, she says ‘I love it go proceed’. At 9am I brief my team and it can be done in one week or one day. It goes very fast.”
Finally he is passionate concerning the automotive business – each past and current – but in addition its ties to his country: “I wanted to work on Citroën because I am French and I wanted to work for my country.”