Citroën: capturing Cactus curiosity


How Citroën used blipverts, an ad break takeover and Ad Sync to launch their curiously unique new model.

Key Points

  • A unique new car design required a unique launch campaign
  • ‘Stay Curious’ became the theme at the centre of their integrated approach 
  • Citroën UK enjoyed their most successful ever model launch and smashed sales targets


The C4 Cactus was the first new model introduced by Citroën for over nine years. With the future of the brand greatly dependent on the success of this new launch, the campaign faced a tough test to hit huge sales targets and generate desire amongst their target audience. 

The striking design of the C4 Cactus was a crucial feature that needed to be effectively promoted throughout the campaign. With a unique combination of the key features of a “Crossover” and a “Hatchback”; forming its own ‘Crosshatch’ segment, it was important to create a visually-impactful campaign in line with the car’s curious design.  The challenge was how to take the car’s uniqueness and communicate it to the UK in an equally compelling and interesting way.

Citroën had large ambitions for the C4 Cactus and were aiming for five-figure sales numbers in 2015. A fast start in the final months of 2014 was therefore critical, with Citroën aiming for 1,500 sales. The difficulty of this challenge was even greater due to the upcoming Christmas period, making it the hardest quarter in which to launch a car successfully.

The Solution

Citroen’s media agency, OMD, devised a strategy based on the theme of ‘Stay Curious’. They felt that the car would appeal most to people who were open-minded, unconventional and naturally curious. Not only was the car radical in appearance but it had several design features that enhanced the driver experience and each one needed to be revealed. 

They knew that TV needed to be at the core of the campaign. Not only could TV showcase the exciting new look but also TV was the only medium that could offer the impact, effectiveness and scale that was required for the launch and ignite the natural curiosity of its viewers.


To launch the campaign, ITV’s ever popular entertainment show The X Factor was identified as the key opportunity to reach as many people as possible in one hit. 

ITV had scheduled the first ever broadcast of an episode on a Friday night - for the infamous Judge’s houses round and this provided the perfect opportunity for Citroën to unleash their ‘tease and reveal’ TV campaign. In targeting this primetime Friday night slot, they ensured that there were was little major programming competition and crucially, the brand was primed for weekend footfall.  

The launch plan involved a break takeover showcasing various elements of the car shown in five 2” mini blipverts and culminating in the reveal of a 30” ad which ran last-in-break. Once the launch break had aired, a staggered roadblock across other key stations whilst The X Factor was still running allowed Citroën to take advantage of additional programme opportunities.

Citroën also capitalised on dual-screening by integrating ITV’s Ad-Sync into the plan. They were able to showcase interactive content so users were able to explore the new C4 model. Three Ad-Syncs were used in total. The first ran as a takeover of the Fifth Judge app during the launch break. The second ran in the first live show on 11th October and benefitted not only from increased awareness of the C4 Cactus, but also in-built voting capabilities. The third Ad-Sync ran during one of the biggest TV nights of the year, The X Factor final. 

The mid-point of the campaign was used as an opportunity for OMD to ensure their ‘Stay Curious’ activity continued to maximise reach. Non-viewers were analysed and became the target of refreshed programming hit lists in order to capture as many of them as possible during the second half of the campaign.

The linear TV campaign was planned to reach 77% of ABC1 Adults and to ensure lighter TV viewing audiences were also reached, VOD and Cinema complemented the TV schedule. 

The message of curiosity delivered through TV advertising was further reinforced through national newspaper campaigns in the Saturday papers and also outdoor. Online, there were homepage takeovers across the Daily Telegraph and key auto sites. Experiential marketing appeared at shopping centres across the country, with car park pillar wraps celebrating the C4 Cactus’ unique Airbump feature and inviting people to ‘Stay Curious’ and find out more about the car.


  • The most successful model launch in Citroën UK’s history.
  • The new C4 Cactus beat its sales targets by 20%.
  • 25% 1+ coverage on launch night.
  • The second Ad-sync drove an incredible 158,642 interactions and 5,584 clicks to site. 
  • Across Europe, Citroën UK had the most online showroom traffic (showroom visits, configurations and leads). 
  • This campaign beat the last comparable C4 Picasso campaign by 52% in terms of sales and drove 11,500 leads and 15,000 online configurations of the car.

The AV lead campaign planned by OMD UK for the New C4 Cactus was instrumental in helping catapult the New C4 Cactus into the public’s consciousness. The UK launch of the C4 Cactus was the most successful across Europe culminated in the C4 Cactus recently entering the What Car top 10 most searched cars on No mean feat just 5 months.

Helen Bradshaw, Marketing Director, Citroën UK


Sector: Motors 

Brand: Citroën C4 Cactus

Campaign objectives: To launch the new model and to drive sales

Target Audience: ABC1 adults

Budget: approx. £2.5m (source: Nielsen)

Campaign Dates: The campaign ran from 3rd October to 31st October 2014 

TV Usage: 2” blipverts, 30” spots, 40” spots

Creative Agency: Havas

Media Agency:  OMD UK

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