I realise in writing this that I am doing myself no favours in dispelling the rumours that we are the outraged generation. Millennials are supposedly always attaching themselves to some cause or another and ever on the lookout for politically incorrect instances and phrases that ‘trigger’ us. However, this is not that. This is simply my ever-cynical self, yet again, calling out nonsense for what it is.
In this instance, Renault has tried to pull my emotional LGBTQ+ heartstrings, by trying to sell me the latest model of its car. The ’30 years in the making’ campaign revolves around an advertisement featuring a friendship between two girls which blossoms into a romance taught with uncertainty. There’s a scene in the rain (why is it always in the rain?) in which a disapproving father scolds one of the young women upon discovering the love letters shared between the two young women, a wedding ceremony in which one of the women marries a man whilst the other looks on in despair, the inevitable breakdown of that marriage, and finally the long-awaited reunion between the two women in which they share a loving embrace. The End. Throughout of course, are several beautiful wide-pan shots of the new Renault model driving down winding roads and through the rain (again, that blasted rain eh?).
Is it an ad? A feature film? Or an LGTBQ+ rights movement? It’s an advert. That’s it. It was created to encourage you to buy the car. And yet upon its release I saw widespread admiration for the advert across Twitter, and I groaned. Oh, how I groaned. Renault doesn’t care about LGTBQ+ rights. Renault cares about sales, and profit, and for some bizarre reason, the rain. The whole thing felt not only unbearably cringeworthy, but also in poor taste. I would have much rather seen a campaign about a new LGBTQ+ education initiative they are launching, or perhaps the showcasing of a new scheme encouraging the hire of more LGBTQ+ individuals by the car manufacturer.
When did this trend of brands jumping on the back of social issues begin? And why, whilst others have failed so miserably at it (see Iceland palm oil advert backlash), do some persist in thinking it’s a good idea? It’s not. It will always backfire.
Perhaps I’m alone in failing to regard the Renault Clio advert as heart-warming as I’ve seen nothing but praise for the campaign. I may just be dead inside. And whilst I recognise that representation and incredibly important and that this advert was at least understated in its portrayal of a blossoming lesbian relationship (a rarity in media), I still can’t help but feel emotionally manipulated for the sole purpose of that there capitalism. I realise it may be seen as a step forward in at least showcasing same-sex relationships in mainstream advertising but it feels like we are expected to jump for joy for getting the bare minimum. I suppose I’m not so much outraged as I am dumbfounded that some people are buying into the campaign. Let’s just hope they’re not buying the car.