For the last four Grand Prix seasons, production agency Sprout has worked with Renault F1 to launch its car and drivers to both the world's press and sponsors. Each reveal has resulted in a host of industry awards for Sprout and seen the relationship between client and agency develop, both in terms of mutual trust and creative thinking. Renault F1 has seen its reputation for theatrical and interesting launch events grow in F1 racing circles. This year proved to be no different.
Renault F1 chose Monaco and the Grimaldi Forum to kick-off the 2005 Grand Prix season. Renault F1 communication manager Patrizia Spinelli says: "Journalists were coming from several competitor launches so we chose the heart of Europe and a location where we'd had a successful Grand Prix victory last year. It's important that our headline sponsor Mild Seven feels comfortable so the location needed to permit a tobacco sponsorship presence."
Catering for the sponsors
This year, Sprout produced two car reveals - one to 200 sponsors and guests on the evening of 31 January and the other to around 700 of the world's media. "Each group has different reasons for attending an F1 launch," says Sprout account director Michelle Pugh. "The theatre is of less importance to journalists who require technical information so we tailored an evening event for sponsors to see the car and feel special about their involvement."
Renault's Spinelli adds: "Sponsors are so often the Cinderella characters. We like their money but they disappear from our thoughts when it comes to launching the car to the press. This year they really appreciated a reveal designed specifically for them and the chance to get up close to the Renault car and the team's drivers, Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella."
A cocktail reception followed by dinner saw the updated car revealed using a high-impact display. Two acrobats performed on a plinth above the car, which was hidden under lycra that stretched over and above it.
The cover was removed by one of the acrobats somersaulting from the shoulders of her partner and onto the back of the material, causing it to retreat back over the vehicle.
"Renault F1 managing director Flavio Briatore was keen to see something in a Cirque de Soleil style and a somersault onto stretched lycra had never been done before," says Pugh.
Production manager Alex Gorman says: "We couldn't use aerialists because of the weight restrictions in the reception so we devised an act that was rehearsed to a point where we were confident it would work."
The press reveal saw the car emerge from a black box created at the back of the auditorium's stage. The media were treated to a video presentation over five screens using footage from the drivers' summer training camp in Kenya and edited for multiple projectors that screened the synchronised images onto a Watchout AV system.
"When the central screen moved to allow the car reveal, it was replaced by three smaller screens. Seven on-stage screens that all moved position added to the bespoke nature of this event," comments Pugh.
In past years, Sprout created single taglines to define Renault's aspirations for the coming season; 100% Renault in 2002, plus On Track and Ready in subsequent years. Each tagline became the defining force behind the content of the respective launch. But this year, Renault opted instead for a concept, Reasons to Believe, from which Sprout could draw its inspiration.
Pugh says: "Renault is not a client that wants the same thing each year and it's fantastic to have that latitude for creativity. The video got across the different corporate messages of teamwork and technical expertise, whereas the sponsor dinner was more subtle, with only a yellow flower frozen in ice on each table as a nod to the corporate brand."
Sprout never takes it for granted that it'll be producing future Renault F1 car launches, but freelance production manager Gorman believes that the levels of trust built up between the client and its agency has led to a stress-free working environment and the ability to stage more and more innovative events in the future. "You can have all the technology in the world but it's the pool of talent that makes each event a success," he says.
Renault's Spinelli agrees: "Sprout has evolved with us and understands our core values. By retaining Sprout we can rely on it to always be up to the challenges of F1 racing."
Renault F1 Team Launch 2005
Venue: Grimaldi Forum, Monaco
Date: 31 January, 1 February
Client: Renault F1
Production manager: Alex Gorman
Logistics: Renault France
Acrobat artistes: Cirque Bijou
Set construction: Set Square
AV programming: Concise
Projection: Projection Partnership
Video creation: Hubub Media
Lighting design: Quentin Jarman
Sound design: Martin Pilton
Producer: Carole Crane