Citroën: advertising in gasoline

Citroën is an automobile brand created in 1919 by André Citroën, it is then a small French automobile brand not very well known unlike the other French brands Renault and Peugeot.

André Citroën had understood this well from the start, advertising is the key to Marketing even if the notions of marketing appeared from the 1930s, visionary and avant-garde, André Citroën had before everyone else made an impression with his shock actions.

Thus, his early marketing strategies, André Citroën's communication policy, is first of all the spectacular.

André Citroën was inspired at the time by Ford's production methods which he studied (Taylorism) in the publications of the time. Citroën will only make the trip to Detroit at Ford, in the United States, in 1923 and 1931. The Citroën Type A will be the first car to be mass-produced in France at the rate of 100 copies per day.

André Citroën is also in charge of Ford Marketing, thus becoming one of the pioneers of communication and marketing in Europe. The very essence of Citroën, advertising at Citroën is almost more ingenious than the technologies of its cars.

History of an atypical communication.


First ad… for a prototype!

The first production Citroën, the Type A was ready on September 20, 1918. It was nevertheless necessary to wait for the armistice so that André Citroën could homologate the Type A, which was done on November 20, 1918.

But, even if the Type A is homologated and ready, André Citroën cannot begin series production, for lack of factories. Indeed, André Citroën must create the Citroën automobile company and, above all, convert the armament factory into an automobile factory, the famous Quai de Javel factory.

It was therefore only in January 1919 that André Citroën presented the Type A to the press. it is twice less than the least expensive of the cars sold on the market! The genius of André Citroën and the automobile brand was born. After an extensive communication campaign, more than 16,000 orders reached the factory in just two weeks.

André Citroën has just signed his first advertisement. And the Citroën saga has just begun with undeniable nerve that takes your breath away: while the general public comes to place an order, the car is still only a prototype! And it is the thousands of 3,500 francs in installments paid by buyers that will replenish the manufacturer's coffers... and will allow the car to be marketed on June 4, 1919!

From then on, the brand, which offered freedom of movement to the French, thanks to its affordable price - 228,000 old francs in 1948 for a 2 CV - will never stop communicating.


Signage


The first Citroën automobile advertisement appeared in 1919. It announced the release of the famous Type A… one month before its manufacture. This sense of anticipation, added to an immoderate taste for innovation and events, characterizes André Citroën's communication.

At that time, road signs were “sponsored”. In search of notoriety, André Citroën very quickly understood the interest that this device could bring to his company. He thus floods all the roads of France with road signs and signposts clothing marked “Don de Citroën”.

In total, 150,000 panels will be installed across France... 150,000 panels that strongly resemble the brand's network panels: André Citroën had it all figured out ahead of time.

But it does not stop there. The manufacturer marks the French roads with signposts bearing its effigy.


Citroën cruises (1920-1934): across the continents


From the beginning of the 1920s, Citroën organized cruises for advertising purposes. They made known the brand, then in its infancy, and its half-tracks, all-terrain vehicles. Adolphe Kégresse filed the patent in 1917, bought by Citroën in 1920. The cruises explore distant lands, and embark scientists and artists who give scientific guarantee. Colonialist ulterior motives manifest themselves particularly in Africa and Asia.



Citroën offers itself the sky


In 1922, on the opening day of the Paris Motor Show, Citroën had an airplane draw the name of its brand in the sky, over a length of 5 kilometres.



Citroën: a child's toy

Jacques Séguéla: "André Citroën invented almost everything in advertising: promotion, credit, PR, events, caravans, raids, not forgetting the first car ad, the first women's ad, the first aerial advertisement. He wanted the first three words spoken by any child to be "daddy, mommy, car." The public will change its slogan to "papa, mama, Citroën".

In 1923, the Citroën brand made the buzz again with this advertisement and launched miniature cars.


Citroën created the range of Citroën toys to get toddlers used to its cars.



Idea of ​​grandeur!


From 1925 to 1934, Citroën offered itself grandiose advertising by writing its name on the Eiffel Tower in luminous letters 30 m high (250,000 light bulbs and 600 km of electric wires). The initial idea was not his, but an engineer of Italian origin, who in the 1930s would be nicknamed "the prince" or even "the magician" of light: Fernand Jacopozzi.

On the occasion of the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in 1925, Jacopozzi had the idea of ​​draping the Eiffel Tower with a large garment of electric light. After having convinced the exhibition committee and the operating company of the Eiffel Tower with the help of an electrified model 3 meters high, he suffered several refusals from potential financial supporters, including Renault, who could to help finance the operation. The engineer literally laid siege to André Citroën's office before managing to convince him by promising that the name of his company would appear in the middle of the light effects and "would be visible for 50 km around". André Citroën was therefore able to seize the opportunity, unlike its competitor Renault. A boldness that paid off since advertising is rooted in history.



Idea of ​​grandeur!


From 1925 to 1934, Citroën offered itself grandiose advertising by writing its name on the Eiffel Tower in luminous letters 30 m high (250,000 light bulbs and 600 km of electric wires). The initial idea was not his, but an engineer of Italian origin, who in the 1930s would be nicknamed "the prince" or even "the magician" of light: Fernand Jacopozzi.

On the occasion of the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in 1925, Jacopozzi had the idea of ​​draping the Eiffel Tower with a large garment of electric light. After having convinced the exhibition committee and the operating company of the Eiffel Tower with the help of an electrified model 3 meters high, he suffered several refusals from potential financial supporters, including Renault, who could to help finance the operation. The engineer literally laid siege to André Citroën's office before managing to convince him by promising that the name of his company would appear in the middle of the light effects and "would be visible for 50 km around". André Citroën was therefore able to seize the opportunity, unlike its competitor Renault. A boldness that paid off since advertising is rooted in history.



Advertising Caravans


Advertising sometimes takes forms that were unknown at the time, such as advertising caravans, made up of all the vehicles in the range, which travel the roads of France and settle for one or two days near the local Citroën agent.


Marriage with RSCG


In 1981, after the arrival of the RSCG agency (1974), the chevrons were unleashed on the posters of Savignac. In short, the entire history of Citroën is punctuated by advertising pages that still mark the spirits today.

With the 2CV in 1968, Citroën discovered the world of TV advertising. But it was in 1974, with the entry on the scene of the RSCG agency, that the brand established itself on the small screen.




Citroën makes the powder speak with the Visa that we see jumping from an aircraft carrier and resurfacing on a submarine, with the slogan “Visa, it’s mind-blowing”. In 1985, the “Les chevrons sauvage” campaign inaugurated the era of show advertising and Citroën embarked on daring stagings such as the Great Wall of China.

With the Xantia in 1993, Citroën inaugurated a new slogan: “You cannot imagine all that Citroën can do for you”. Without ceasing to rely on an abundant creation, advertising is getting closer to the product, as with the film “C4 Dancer” in 2005 which benefits from a planetary echo.


Do something never seen before, spectacular, exclusive, original, this is what the specifications of a car advertisement often looked like in the 80s. There is one that remains in the memories, and which today today could sound like a history lesson to the advertiser.



Attacking China


In 1986, shooting a spot on the Great Wall of China seemed impossible. And yet...

The idea is attractive but the hardest part remains to be done. The truth is that 13 automakers have already torn their teeth over the idea of ​​a wall ad.

How to convince the Chinese to accept the filming of a commercial, extolling the merits of a capitalist society, of a capitalist country? Even at Citroen, no one believes it. Patrick Segal, offers Seguela to go there to try.

The first contacts confirm what everyone thought, namely that it is not won. But Segal has more than one trick up his sleeve. He is part of the same international disability association as the son of Deng Xiaoping, number 1 Chinese. What seemed impossible, becomes reality in “only” 6 months of negotiation. It will be necessary to promise the refabrication of a one kilometer section of the collapsed Wall to pocket the contract. Which will make Seguela say “one kilometer of Walls is a great deal, it will have barely cost us 10% of the spot budget”.



Citroën in keeping with its time


In March 2017, Citroën arrived on the Snapchat social network, with the “Snapdrive C3 WRC” operation, which offered “snappers” the opportunity to take control of the Citroën C3 WRC. An ephemeral 24-hour experience, in the spirit of Snapchat stories. But to mark the time it is also necessary to leave traces on new territories. In 2016, Citroën also collaborated with an artist, Scottish designer Chris Labrooy, to create an original 3D animation using cars to trace the evolution of Citroën models up to the new C3.



2019: Citroën shows up for its 100th anniversary


For its 100th anniversary, Citroën continues this artistic adventure with a photographic exhibition, “The world inspired by Citroën” with 100 Citroëns representative of its 100th anniversary. An exceptional exhibition resembling an artistic happening relayed on social networks which shows a new era of communication. The exercise was acrobatic. But Citroën and its new Traction/BETC agency get away with it with talent and mischief, avoiding the double pitfall of insipid nostalgia.



Centennial is still young


Citroën is rejuvenating with its membership of the Stellantis group following the merger of the PSA Peugeot-Citroën group and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA).



The positioning of the brand is reviewed and has become a generalist brand aimed at a younger clientele (young families) and ''trendy''.




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