Zitrön – The Ënd of an Ëra

Since we were limited to a smaller budget and less technical capabilities, it was more about finding the right balance between making this hoax as entertaining as possible while being highly believable.

- Havas Germany Team

Can you briefly describe your project and the concept behind it?

The car brand Citroën had no relevance in Germany, and awareness had declined over the years. But, Citroën did not have enough budget to change that with paid media. That’s why we had to generate earned media. We did this by proving that Citroën lives up to its brand claim “Inspired By You.” “Citroën” became “Zitrön” – inspired by the lack of ability of Germans pronouncing “Citroën” the right way. The rebranding was everywhere: website, social media channels, even at the car dealership.

Talk about your initial prototypes. How did those ideas change throughout design and execution?

There were no major changes in the process. From the start, Citroën recognized the potential of the idea and had the courage to implement it in the same way. We are thankful to work with a brave client who dared to change the most sacred part of a brand–the logo and name, while still keep the authentic look of all assets.

What influenced your chosen technical approach, and how did it go beyond past methods?

We all know that a brand’s name is the most important branding asset since it’s what people always use when talking about a brand. Changing it from one day to the next caused of course a huge discussion on the internet. But it’s not that simple as it seems. The hoax must appear as real as possible. So every “Citroën” and every logo had to change to “Zitrön.” With a global website, where normally only header images and price tags are exchanged, it was not that easy and needed precise coordination.

What web technologies, tools, or resources did you use to develop this?

Our content hub was built with HTML5, based on wireframes created with Adobe XD. For the online pronunciation test where you could win the Zitrön Z5 Aircross we also used google speech-to-text software.

What breakthrough or “a-ha” moment did you experience when concepting or executing this project?

During the rebranding, we enjoyed working with many different departments. Even people who had no creative background at all. No matter who you told about “Zitrön,” everyone was immediately passionate about this idea. We suddenly saw people rebranding their own cars with 3D-printed logos or self-made stickers, dealers rebranded their shops and users tagged their friends saying “Zitrön must be inspired by them, due to the way they pronounce it. There were even some aha-moments during the prephase, when colleagues said that family members or friends call it “Zitrön.”

How did you balance your creative and technical capabilities with the client’s brand?

Since we were limited to a smaller budget and less technical capabilities, it was more about finding the right balance between making this hoax as entertaining as possible while being highly believable. By using social media as our main platform to spread the “rebranding in Germany," we made sure to fuel the discussion in creative ways, without putting the brand’s reputation at risk. When people started to doubt the realness of Zitrön and were investigating online, they were always hit with the new name everywhere. What made it believable in the end, was the authentic font, the real classic logo and the overall appearance done in the correct CI with one little change: the new name “Zitrön.”

How did the final product defy your expectations?

To work with a hoax-campaign in times of fake news bears the risk of being unmasked and surely to make oneself ridiculous. In the worst case even to attract annoyance. But we hit the nerve: everyone started talking about this crazy name change, engaged with the brand and experienced the French car manufacturer as a brand brave enough to think differently. Online, on TV, in the news and printed media, nationwide as well as globally, Zitrön was the main topic. The peak definitely was our competitors joining the conversation and congratulating us, retweeting and sharing our posts.

Why is this an exciting time to create new digital experiences? How does your team fit into this?

In the past few weeks the world has had a digital crash course. Home office, virtual collaboration, closed shops and restaurants established digital sales. And people like, even yearn for it and want to gain more digital experiences. This is the perfect playground for us to explore and create meaningful ideas. And by entertaining people and making them engage in such fun ideas, our team even gets inspired by those who join the experience online. It sometimes seems like a never ending circle of creativity.

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