After winning the constructors world championship for two years in a row, Renault launched the ‘red is dead’ campaign to suggest that Renault is a leading car brand, and a main competitor with Ferrari in Formula one. It produced a number of different adverts depicting traditionally red items as yellow.
Association is used because the iconic Ferrari colour is red, therefore, by claiming that ‘red is dead’, the advert is implying that Ferrari is no longer the best. To further highlight this, the advert uses objects that are traditionally known for being red, such as the British phone box and tomato ketchup and makes them yellow (the Renault brand colour). This simplistic advert effectively conveys the message about Renault’s superiority using the metaphor that yellow is the new red (Renault is the new Ferrari). It is also trying to create a strong association between the colour yellow and the brand Renault, something that Ferrari achieved with the colour red. Association has been shown to be effective in advertising; Staats and Staats (1958) found that the meaning of one concept could be transferred to another without participants being aware. They paired national and masculine names with positive and negative words, and found that the positive/negative meaning became associated with the original names.
Comparative advertising is also used as an effective persuasive strategy. Gorn and Weinburg (1984) found that when a challenging brand, rather than the leading brand, used comparative advertising, sales improved because it resulted in an increased brand similarity between the challenger and the leader. They showed participants comparative and non-comparative magazine articles of three products: toothpaste, cigarettes and golf balls. When the challenging brand mentioned the leading brand in the advert, participants were more persuaded than when the challenging brand made no mention of a competitor. This shows that Renault’s decision to metaphorically link itself to Ferrari is effective, as people are likely to associate the positive aspects of the Ferrari brand to Renault.
Finally, making a friendly gibe towards Ferrari adds an element of humour to the advert, which is also likely to increase its memorability and message comprehension (Duncan, Nelson & Frontczak, 1984).
Duncan, C. P., Nelson, J. E., & Frontczak, N. T. (1984). The effect of humour on advertising comprehension. Advances in Consumer Research, 11, 432-437.
Gorn, G. J., & Weinberg, C. B. (1984). The impact of comparative advertising on perception and attitude: Some positive findings. Journal of Consumer Research, 11, 719-727.
Staats, A. W. & Staats, C. K. (1958). Attitudes established by classical conditioning. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 57, 37-40.