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An Afternoon With Renault In Cannes

If you have been to Cannes during the film festival then you have definitely came across an army of shinny black Renault cars with a golden logo and tinted windows, transporting celebrities to the red carpet of the Palais des festivals. It’s in these cars where global stars spend the last moments before they step out in front of hundreds of flashing cameras.

The relationship between the iconic festival and the leading French car brand goes beyond a short-term partnership and has been ongoing since the 1980s.

We sat down with Claude Hugot, the Director of Public Relations of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, to understand the importance of Cannes for the brand universe of Renault, and to learn more about the car’s next chapter.

Interview with Claude Hugot
AM: Tell us more about the significance of the Cannes Film Festival for the Renault brand
Well, this year is a special one because it’s the 35th anniversary of the partnership between Cannes and our brand. The festival is highly important and attracts more than 5,000 journalists from around the world, totaling more than 60,000 hours of television. Keep in mind that Renault is the first thing that arrives on the red carpet facing those hundreds of cameras and photographers, so the return on investment is quite substantial!

In terms of numbers, we have 130 Talisman, the premium sedan car, dedicated to the jury and celebrities. We also have 170 Espace cars (4x4) for the official partners like Kering, L’Oréal, Nestlé and Air France. Therefore, we have more than 300 black cars for the festival that do up to 20,000 total trips in and around Cannes.

But our partnership is not a question of notoriety because Renault is already an established brand. What is more important for us is to have a trendy and fresh image, one that is in line with our Vice-President of Design, Laurens van den Acker, who has redesigned all of the range and made it more sleek and stylish. The image of the new generation of Renault is a premium, glamour, sexy and modern car that is attracting global actors in the fashion, jewelry and beauty industry.

AM: What is an iconic moment for Renault that took place in Cannes?
One interesting anecdote was during a red carpet attended by Leonardo DiCaprio and Steven Spielberg on a very rainy day. To protect the celebrities, our chauffeurs handed them an umbrella with the Renault logo, and which later on appeared in all of the official red carpet photos in the media. This was a very spontaneous and funny marketing stunt.

AM: What can we expect from Renault in the future?

As our car design is evolving, we have selected 30 brand and celebrity ambassadors who drive the car in Paris, including people like Mick Jagger and Lenny Kravitz. Like many, our ambassadors enjoy the car because it’s subtle. Renault now brings together comfort, discreteness and a premium service. The engineers of Mercedes-Benz are helping Renault to further improve its perceived quality. For instance, the new Espace and Talisman are more of a German car in terms of quality as compared to the previous generation.

Also, Renault and Carlos Ghosn are investing a lot in intelligent cars and automatic vehicles. Who knows if in a couple of years we might have celebrities driven to the red carpet by smart cars.

AM: And where is Renault heading to after Cannes?

This year Renault became the sponsor of the infamous Paris Fashion Week, so we will be present during the 6 fashion weeks of the year. In my opinion, cinema and fashion intertwine and this connection allows us to show how Renault has become a statement car.

The Renault experience

It was time for us to have our 5-minute of fame moment as we took a ride in one of the official festival cars to the Palm Beach area of Cannes. We couldn’t but chat with the very professional driver who talked to us about his qualifications and how it is to be in the same car with A-list celebrities.

AM: We have heard so much about your high-end training, can you tell us more about the process?

It consists of 450 hours of training and includes driving competencies, guest relations and specific applications with a touch of luxury know-how. We also have advanced trainings that are related to the type of client we work with, example a security training for the protection of public figures.

AM: Please share with us some of the behind the scenes stories

We’ve had many moments where an actress asked to change her dress urgently and we had to rush back to the hotel in a matter of seconds. I’ve also had a client who asked me to drive her to a grocery store at 2 a.m. in the morning to buy her favorite chocolate bar, and another who wanted to watch the sunrise on the Cannes beach.

As we work with the same celebrity throughout his/her stay in Cannes we build a relationship of trust and respect. You would be surprised how celebrities are timid in the private space of the car in comparison to how they appear on the red carpet.

For everything Renault visit the official website here.