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Essay about the media terms of a Renault Clio advert. Useful for media/english students.
Using the example of the Renault Clio television advertisement, explain how meaning is conveyed through the use of technical, symbolic and written codes.

Companies choose to advertise on the television for the simple reason that, every night over 60 million Britons watch their television sets and, if you have a product to sell and money to make, it is the perfect way to promote your merchandise to a large audience of potential buyers. Advertising on TV is extremely expensive, though; for a 30 second advertising slot, at peak time, shown in the break between parts of a popular program (Coronation Street for example) the price can reach £700,000 or over. This is because more people are watching the TV at this time; therefore more people are likely to see the advert. Companies are prepared to spend such vast amounts of money on adverts because they are confident that viewers will see their advert, buy the product and gradually repay the money spent on the advert through sales of the product.
For the advert to be a success the company must come up with a range of new advertising ideas. The advert must be new and original so that it does not bore the viewers or make them want to change the TV channel. It must hold their interest and make the viewer associate the originality of the advert with the product. For example, if a product is advertised in an old-fashioned and boring way then the viewers will see the product in the same light, boring and old-fashioned. However, if a product is advertised in a new and inspirational way then the viewers will regard the product as something exceptional and are more likely to buy it.

Another thing that companies like to use in their adverts is famous people, for example David Beckham advertising Gillette razor blades and Beyoncé’s voice accompanying the new Tommy Hilfiger perfume advert. This is because the general public see the ‘rich and famous’ as role models and aspire to be like them. If they see someone who they look up to using a certain product on the television, it not only makes the public want to buy the product so that they can be like their idols, but it makes them see that product as ‘the best’.
Humour is also a useful device to the advertiser because if an advert makes you laugh then you will associate the happy feeling with the product that is being promoted by the advert and want to buy it. An advert is also made more memorable if it is funny. As an example, I find the Post Office advert, where an elderly woman is minding her daughter’s huge dog memorable due to its humour. In the Renault Clio advert the advertisers have deliberately usedVic Reeves and Bob Mortimer to add humour.
Intertextuality (when the advert producers steal an original idea from a film, book or TV programme and use it to advertise their product) is used often in adverts. This appeals to the audience because, if they have seen the relevant film or TV programme or have read the relevant book, they realise what has been incorporated into the advert and feel clever because they know what the advert has copied. This technique is only used with popular media, so that more people can understand where the intertextuality in the advert is. An example of an advert that uses intertextuality is the Pringles advert in which a group of men are caressing tubes of Pringles and whispering “My precious…” This is recognised by the audience as being adapted into the advert from the blockbuster film ‘The Lord of the Rings’. Another example from an advert for Twigglets crisps. In the advert a group of friends are sitting around a table laughing and eating Twigglets, when one of them clutches his chest and starts coughing. He then throws himself onto the table and a large Twigglet bursts out of his chest. Viewers immediately realise that this has been copied from the film ‘Alien’. Different types of intertextuality are used depending on which age range is being targeted, for example, intertextuality for a children’s advert may include figures that they are familiar with like ‘Barney the Dinosaur’, whereas adverts targeted at adults have intertextuality from films that children have not seen due to age ratings etc.

The series of Renault Clio adverts which used ‘Papa and Nicole’ also used intertextuality as the adverts followed the lives of the characters like an ongoing soap such as ‘Eastenders’. This appealed greatly to the audience because, like with an ongoing series, the viewers wanted to keep watching the adverts to see what would happen to the characters in the next advert. The public grew to like and dislike certain characters as you do with a proper TV programme.
These adverts, however, were not aired in France. This was because they portrayed a typical British stereotype of the French people, a view that the French do not share. Papa and Nicole are French. They have a very comfortable lifestyle as they have both a city flat, showing urban sophistication, and an idyllic rural chateau which is peaceful and away from the trauma of everyday life. Both Papa and Nicole have lovers, showing the English stereotype of French people’s love lives. We British tend to view the French as a very stylish and handsome people, shown in the appearance of Papa and Nicole. Papa is an elderly man, but nevertheless is shown to be distinguished and debonair and his daughter, Nicole is a beautiful, chic and stylish young woman.

In the Renault Clio advert, the way in which intertextuality is used makes it appeal to a very wide audience. Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer – a comedy duo from the popular TV show ‘Shooting Stars’ famous for their childish behaviour and silly voices- are used in the last in a long series of Renault Clio adverts that feature Papa and Nicole. In ‘Shooting Stars’ Bob Mortimer was always ‘getting the better of Vic Reeves; this is shown in the advert by Bob’s ability to steal Nicole away from Vic. The use of these two comedians not only made the advert humorous, but appealed to the thousands of people who watched ‘Shooting Stars’ as it gave them something familiar to relate to in the advert.
More intertextuality is seen when Bob Mortimer runs into the back of the church where Nicole is about to marry Vic, bangs on the glass panel and screams “NICOLE!!!!” Nicole runs out of the church and drives off with Bob, leaving Vic alone at the altar. This was all taken from the 1967 film ‘The Graduate’ starring Dustin Hoffman and the use of intertextuality would be picked out by middle-aged viewers or Dustin Hoffman fans. However, in ‘The Graduate’ Dustin Hoffman’s car breaks down and he must run to the wedding in order to get there in time to save his love. Later, when he has stolen the bride from her husband-to-be they must both leap on a city bus to escape from the wedding quickly. On the Clio advert, the car proves to be reliable and does not break down; therefore there was no need to catch a bus.
Also the advert was the last in a long and popular series of Renault Clio adverts, and so, like with popular TV programmes, more people tuned in to see what would happen at the climax of the series.
The producers of the advert hoped that the car would have an appeal that was as wide as possible. In the advert the car is shown to handle well on the road, have good brakes and in many shots it is shown as the only car on the road giving a ‘King of the Open Road’ impression; this was designed to strongly appeal to men. Also the car is shown as small and nippy, with a large boot to store items such as shopping in; this was designed to appeal to women. The advert tried to show the car in many different ways so that it would have the widest possible appeal.

Symbolic codes are used widely throughout the advert. In the opening shot of the advert we see Nicole wearing a white gown and a veil; in our culture this is symbolic of a bride and we immediately understand that Nicole must be getting married. In other cultures though, brides do not traditionally wear white, but as they do in our culture we automatically assume that Nicole is to be wed. Papa is wearing a ‘top hat and tails’ outfit and, although we have not been directly told, we assume that he must be going to attend a very special event, enforcing the fact that a wedding is about to take place. As Nicole looks out of her window, her face seems to convey a sense of sadness, and a hint of a tear is seen in the corner of her eye. This is used to show the audience that she is upset about something and seems to be apprehensive about the wedding. Then the camera focuses on Papa who raises his arms and looks expectantly at Nicole, symbolising that she is late for the wedding. With this Nicole turns and the curtains swing closed over the window, which indicates that she has taken the hint and is coming.
The scene then switches to a small nippy car (the Renault Clio) speeding along the open road. There are no other cars in sight giving us the impression that the Clio is the ‘King of the Road’. The scene changes back to Nicole who is being driven through an idyllic country setting in a large, regal, slow, black car, which is again symbolic in our culture as a wedding car. The background music is slow, orchestral and has a very traditional feel to it, which goes with the idea of a traditional wedding. The scene changes back to the Clio which is moving quickly along the roads. The Clio is accompanied by upbeat, modern music that adds to the car’s appeal and image. Suddenly the Clio pulls to a stop and the man in the driving seat looks at his watch which implies that he too is late for the wedding. We assume that this man is the groom, although we have not actually seen his full body yet, because he is in a hurry to reach the church. There are a few more shots of both cars in turn, accompanied by ambient noises in the background such as church bells chiming to symbolise that the wedding is drawing nearer. This is put into the advert to create a sense of realism.
Nicole is seen being led down the aisle of a church This shows that Papa is going to give her away to the groom, who is seen cleaning his glasses at the front of the church. We later realize that the groom is Vic Reeves. This makes us wonder who the man in the Clio is. There is a shot of the Clio pulling up outside of the church (ambient noise is present as we can hear the grinding of the car’s brakes on the gravel) and a man jumping out of it. The man quickly runs up the stairs in the church, and there is a shot of a ring being placed on Nicole’s finger symbolising that the marriage is almost complete.
Then we hear a man shouting from above the altar, and hear him banging on the glass panel; Nicole and Vic turn around in surprise. We see Bob Mortimer banging on the glass with a look of horror on his face and shouting “NICOLE!!!” This conveys the message that he is despairing that his love has been given to another man. Nicole exchanges a questioning look with Papa, and they say their trademark “Papa!” “Nicole!” lines before Nicole turns to Bob and yells his name. The look that Nicole gives Papa is as if to say ‘what should I do, should I go to Bob?’ and Papa’s look implies that Nicole should follow her heart. Nicole runs out of the church and kisses Bob in the doorway, before getting into the Clio and driving away. This symbolises Nicole’s decision to throw away the traditional lifestyle (marriage and the wedding car) and enjoy a free modern life (shown by Bob Mortimer and the Renault Clio). Just before driving away, Nicole’s bouquet is thrown out of the Clio’s window and is caught by Vic Reeves, who stamps up and down on it. This conveys to the audience that he is angry and upset (it also demonstrates the classic ‘Shooting Stars’ childish behaviour)
The advert finishes with a shot of a happy and smiling Nicole which symbolises that she did the right thing, as the Clio drives off into the distance.

A number of technical shots are used to emphasize the features of the Renault Clio in the advert. Long High Angled shots feature the car as it speeds along the road, suggesting that it is fast and has very good road handling, which will appeal to male viewers. This type of shot also gives the impression of the ‘King of the Road’ idea. At the beginning of the advert when Nicole is seen at the window a Big Close up shot is used to show emotions, but when she looks out of the window the camera changes to a Glance Object shot, in which the viewer sees through the eyes of the character. Juxtaposition is used when the scenes keep changing quickly between the wedding car and the Clio; this is to show contrast between the two. Slow Motion or Soft Focus shots are used to create a romantic atmosphere, like when the ring is placed on Nicole’s finger and later on when she runs down the aisle alone to meet Bob. When she does meet Bob, and they kiss the camera switches to a Framed shot, in which the picture is meant to look like a framed photograph.

There is only the one written code throughout the whole advert. This is a High Angle shot with centred words that read “The New Clio” in a cursive font. It is written in this style because it is felt to be more feminine and romantic, and will therefore widen the car’s appeal to women. The use of the word ‘new’ suggests a breaking away from tradition and a romantic life of freedom, which is in keeping with the story of the advert. The Clio is seen in the background driving away into the distance which symbolises a happy ending.

This particular series of adverts finished a few years ago. Nowadays Thierry Henry, a professional French footballer, is used to promote the Renault Clio. The producers of the advert felt that they needed to widen their appeal more towards the younger generation, and needed a new original idea to promote the car.
I think that by using Thierry Henry, the car is given a more masculine and sporty touch whilst still remaining cool. This was done to appeal to younger male audiences. The new Renault Clio advert is mainly shot in an ‘Ultra-cool’ jazz bar, which emphasizes how cool the car really is, plus gives the new image of a fresh, funky, masculine Clio. The adverts have a catchy phrase too, ‘Va Va Voom’ which is French for ‘Go Go Voom’. ‘Animal’ from ‘The Muppet Show’ is also incorporated into the new Clio advert; this is another incident of intertextuality that is meant to appeal to a wide audience as almost everyone has heard of ‘The Muppets’

In conclusion, I think that the Renault Clio advertising campaign is extremely effective and had almost universal appeal. The advert is well-structured and uses intertextuality and the three codes (symbolic, technical and written) in a very effective way. We are all left wondering, ‘Where will the Clio advertising campaign go next?’

;) Enjoy!
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