Renault's "shakin' yer ass" TV ad, which provoked a flurry of complaints when first shown, is achieving its objective of raising the profile of Mégane II.
It is working so well that other Mégane models will be able to ride on the back of its success. Scenic II will get its own TV advertising, which breaks on September 19, but other derivatives will rely on other forms of exposure to raise their profile.
"The Scenic II TV ad will be different to the 'shake yer ass' ad and more what you might expect from Renault," said Sylvie Calmettes, Renault UK's product manager for Scénic, Mégane Sports Tourer and Mégane Sports Saloon.
The controversial ad was important "to push the Mégane name. That had to be the focus," said Ms Calmettes. "There had to be one message, and the different models will flow from there with their own specific targets."
Why call a lower medium estate a sports tourer? "It worked really well with the Laguna and we want to carry over that legacy to the Mégane range," said Ms Calmettes.
Renault did not sell the previous generation Mégane estate in the UK. The last time the company competed in this sector was with the R12 estate in the late 1970s.
"It's a sizeable UK sector worth more than 45,000 sales a year and we feel the Sports Tourer is the right product and the right opportunity to go back in," said Ms Calmettes.
The Sports Tourer is charged with wooing customers away from the direct competition and expanding Renault's customer base. Part of the task will also be persuading drivers out of older versions of bigger estates, such as Vectra and Mondeo.
Estate car buyers are mostly men. "They're rational guys; once an estate driver, always an estate driver," said Ms Calmettes.
But an even bigger task confronts the launch of the Sports Saloon. "We like a bit of a challenge," said Ms Calmettes who admitted that the success of Volkswagen's Bora in this segment was encouraging.
"It might be a niche in the UK, but it's a hugely important car internationally, so every car we sell in the UK will be a bonus," said Ms Calmettes. The target is between 2,500 and 3,000 sales a year.
"There were a lot of Japanese in this segment up until the mid-90s, but they've gone. I think we can bring novelty and style to the sector."
Sales of Sports Tourer and Sports Saloon will be dwarfed by Scénic II which is set to continue where original Scenic left off at 40,000 a year. By the time Grand Scénic joins the range, there will be seven models in the Mégane stable with total UK volumes expected to be between 70,000 and 80,000 a year.
By Anthony LewisPublished 6 September 2003