Ah, the Renault 14, a car remembered by precisely no-one. Apart from gigantic geeks like me. And even then only for its ability to rust into oblivion at the first sign of rain.
As a mid-size hatchback it was actually pretty progressive when it was launched in 1976, two years after the Volkswagen Golf pretty much invented the segment. The rounded styling set it apart, but for reasons known only to themselves, Renault‘s marketing department compared it to a pear, which just doesn’t sound good. Add in its propensity to rot and the ‘rotten as a pear’ line was inevitable.
But I’m not here to talk about the car itself. Rather, I want to talk about this specific picture of it. Which may be the worst advertising image I have ever seen.
Let me explain. Advertising images are designed to send a specific message about the product in question. They use a language that you probably don’t understand explicitly, but you get meaning.
So, when you see an image of a supercar in a mountain range, you get the parallel between the drama of the car and the drama of the scenery. It’s a cliche, but it works. That’s why advertising agencies turn to it time and time again.
The trouble comes when the car in question just isn’t very interesting. Like the Renault 14. What do you do then? You put it in a location that makes it look more interesting than it actually is.
That’s what Renault was trying to do here. You can see their thinking: photographing it on the banks of the Seine in Paris would make it look cosmopolitan and chic. But they got it entirely wrong.
They could have used the Eiffel Tower as the backdrop, or the Trocadero, or the Place de la Concorde. Instead, they chose Notre Dame, in this writer’s opinion not a beautiful building, especially not before it was cleaned up. And to make matters worse, there’s a huge modern block and two tower cranes clearly visible as well. An attractive scene it is not. And yellow hardly does the car any favours.
As a result, it doesn’t this image doesn’t make the 14 look cosmopolitan and chic. It just looks like a tourist decided to take a picture of their car there for no particular reason.
They were wrong.
By Only Motors