The original Papa Nicole campaign was a 90s phenomenon in the UK, selling over 300,000 Clios in its seven-year run. But not only that, it inspired so many dads to name their daughters Nicole that the name reached the top 100 list in the UK for the first time, ever.
From that angle, Renault deciding to bring it back for Father’s Day, to launch the all-new Megane E-Tech 100% Electric, makes complete sense. Anyone over the age of 35 remembers that campaign, some may even have nursed their first crush on Nicole when she gets a makeover, and practically everyone can hum the tune. The tune, by the way, is Robert Palmer's "Johnny and Mary", so no Nicoles are involved there.
As the resident adnerd here, I had no problem recalling the "Nicole, Papa" adverts of the 90s, so as I watched this I was actually hoping for a bit of that soap opera ad magic. I waited for it, but it never came. Hell, in the short version of the ad below, you don't even realize that all of these ladies are a "Nicole" to their dear papa. That is just hinted at with the line "the story lives on"...
I watched the five-minute edit, getting increasingly annoyed with the lack of "Nicole - Papa!" dialogue, and thought that I should select someone closer to the target market to view these ads, my teenage girl. I sat her down with a few Renault ads from the 90's, starting with the ski jump in 93 and by the time Nicole and Papa both snuck away for secret dates, she was emotionally invested in their ongoing advertising soap opera. "Aw, he snuck out on a date too!" she exclaimed.
Then I made her watch this five-minute road to nowhere below. It did not impress her much.
Personally, I liked the story of the disabled fashion influencer Nicole, because as she drives I can see that she's using something different due to her disability, and this is showing me some car tech feature in the midst of the sappy daddy-daughter stories. But my interest is short-lived as I'm irrationally angry by the end when all three of the Nicoles greet their papa with "DAD!" Way to ruin what you stretched further than the elastic man to reach.
The end result is a short version that needs the long version to be understood. And a long version that spends more time showcasing the carefully selected Nicole's admirable careers than the car, or the nostalgia for the original campaign. So it all falls really flat for me. They are lovely Nicoles, and they have sweet dads, but the magic that made the original "Nicole - Papa" so mesmerizing was the quick and loving storytelling of all the little moments that fathers and daughters have together. It was a little soap opera, with the abilities of the car as the - no pun intended - vehicle for their story. I didn't even realize that the Megane E-Tech is 100% Electric from this ad.
Ad agency: Publicis•Poke