Canadian creative experts on Renault’s same-sex love story

Renault U.K.’s “30 Years in the Making” ad generated lots of buzz this week, with even the mainstream media talking about it. In 130 seconds, the car company and creative agency Publicis Poke manage to tell a rich, decades-long girl-meets-girl, girl-loses-girl, girl-gets-girl-back love story. It is a poignant and powerful piece of film that has been praised by the LGBT media.

The ad was created to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Renault’s Clio model—the car appears throughout the spot—and is meant to illustrate the positive changes that have occurred both in the car and the world over that time.

“Renault brings people’s passion for life a little closer through our cars,” said Adam Wood, marketing director at Renault U.K., in a release. “We wanted to humanise and celebrate, not just thirty years of progress of the Renault Clio, but also the progress made within culture, society and life in that time. The Renault Clio is as in tune with the times today as it always has been.”

Since the ad received so much attention, The Message wanted to get some reaction from Canadian ad experts. Here’s what we heard:

It’s not hard to see why this ad is trending. Above anything, it’s beautifully shot, well edited and set to a nostalgic song, reproduced to induce tears. While I don’t love borrowed interest, or jumping on the bandwagon in advertising, they’ve managed to bring to life a same-sex couple in a way that respectfully represents the complexity of their struggle to have a relationship in a way that’s universally relatable. It’s not just a love story, but an underdog love story, and who can resist that? —Addie Gillespie, creative director at One Twenty Three West.

Beautifully shot, great story, lovely payoff with the “30 Years In the Making” line. Kudos to Renault for seamlessly weaving their product into the spot in a way that feels natural and unforced. Great storytelling without dialogue. The performances of the two women over time felt real and genuine. My only criticism: “Wonderwall.” Really? —Nellie Kim, vice-president and executive creative director at lg2.

It’s a lovely, well-crafted, well-told emotional tale that still manages to work in a lot of product. Hopefully, this commercial is blazing a trail for a future in which advertising concepts can regularly feature same-sex couples—instead of same-sex couples being the concept. I found it funny that in the 30-second cutdown of the commercial they omitted the uncomfortable detail in the storyline of the husband who the French leading lady abandons and then moves with their child to a different country—but they still managed to find time to keep in all the shots of the stereo through the years. —Brian Murray, chief creative officer, Ogilvy.

It’s a beautifully crafted and touching piece of film. The acting, directing and editing are spot-on. The visual storytelling transcends cultures and languages. The sombre remake of Wonderwall is brilliant. While some might think the lesbian angle is gratuitous, I would describe it as brave. The one place where the work could be stronger is in the connection to the brand. There are many other car models that could claim decades in the making with similar “liberal” brand DNA, along with heritage apparel brands… That said, I love how the car is integral to the narrative and is the glue that keeps the girls together, despite everything that comes between them. And for now, I’ll remember that it’s Renault who brought us this message. But ask in a few weeks and I might say Peugeot, or Citroen, or Air France. —Chris Dacyshyn, co-executive creative director, bleublancrouge.

I think it’s a beautifully executed, emotionally resonant drama that holds you from the first frame to the last. The gay storyline is pretty bold for a mainstream car manufacturer, but feels absolutely right for 2019. And it’s (yet) another example of how music can lift a commercial to another level and deepen its emotional impact. I can imagine there might be some concern about the clarity of the branding, but it’s worth noting that in the U.K., the Clio—apart from the original Mini—is probably the most famous and recognizable small car ever sold. It also starred in some of the most famous and effective U.K. advertising ever. The word iconic is painfully over-used these days, but it would be no exaggeration to say that three Clio campaigns—’What’s yours called?,” “Papa and Nicole” and “Va va voom”—are three of the most iconic car advertising campaigns in U.K. history. This feels like an appropriate complement to them. —Mark Tomblin, founder, Thinking Unstuck.

David Brown