Are these two electric car ads for Renault and Nissan by any chance related?

The chances are you won’t have seen Renault’s expensive new global campaign, promoting the virtues of its ZE electric model. That’s because it won’t be airing in Britain until September.

Which is a pity, because it’s a nicely crafted piece of advertising that fetes the coming of the electric revolution in an unusually humorous, ironic way. Irony being a hallmark of neither the automobile industry nor the French ad industry.

It’s produced by Paris-based Publicis Conseil and driven, as it were, by the agency’s chief creative officer Olivier Altmann. And here, for the uninitiated, it is:

Nifty, isn’t  it? Now, here’s another campaign, produced by TBWA for the Nissan LEAF. It has just begun airing in the USA. I wonder if you can spot the differences:

Spookily similar aren’t they? In fact, so similar you would draw the obvious conclusion that these rival car giants were collaborating in a global generic push for their electric car technology.

Nor, at first sight, is that such a silly conclusion. After all, Nissan and Renault are related. Renault, run by Brazilian whizz kid Carlos Ghosn, is the dominant partner in an alliance, with a 44.3 % stake in Nissan; while Nissan has a strategic cross-holding of 15% (with no voting rights) in Renault.

However, the collaboration is firmly anchored in technological development, production improvements and a bit of badge engineering. It does not extend to sales and marketing – which are still regarded as totally separate operations and highly competitive ones at that.

Yet that’s precisely what Publicis Conseil and TBWA appear to be doing with the electric platform – collaborating. The production values of the two ads may be slightly different, and there are significant variations in the development of the story board, but the creative concept appears to be identical.

Not so, I’m told. There is fury in both agencies, which have taken to accusing each other of plagiarism. At very least there must have been a leak. Legals have been threatened … though I doubt the threat will come to anything. So, come on boys, tell us: who had the idea first?

UPDATE: The answer to my last question may be, “Neither”. A chum in Italy, Tommaso Ridolfi, tells me there is a third ingredient in this thickening plot: Mitsubishi Motors. Mitsubishi launched its i MiEV(Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle) on the European retail market at the end of last year. Check out this ad, ‘Let’s Go Electric’, for similarities to the above. It bears an uncanny resemblance, particularly to the Nissan spot. The only thing is, it appears to have preceded them, airing in March. Mitsubishi is certainly not an ally of Renault or Nissan. For more commentary, see Joelapompe’s site.

3 Responses to Are these two electric car ads for Renault and Nissan by any chance related?

  1. Tommaso Ridolfi says:

    Interesting musings, Stuart… But there’s a third brand that should be added to the equation, which French site Joelapompe dates as march 2011. Check the Mitsubishi commercial:

  2. Jaclyn Krus says:

    It’s interesting that advertisements for electric cars have been improving so much since just over 10 years ago. Hopefully, they really generate some action.

  3. vfx says:

    But WAIT!
    Predating all these efforts was a series of PSAs advocating electric cars. Starting with the one called “Cellphone
    Each PSA was produced and released for $700 cash and have been running on HULU for a year with millions of views per month.

    Eric, Director, PIA PSAs

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