The Ënd of an Ëra: Havas for Citroën “Zitrön”

Making Germans talk in a foreign language is not only a challenge, it’s also extremely funny.

Eric Schoeffler
ECD Europe / CCO Germany Havas Europe

Tell us about your role in the creation of this work.

My main role in this campaign development was being a sounding board to my very talented and ambitious team. I had the easiest and most fun part. All I needed to do was to ask nasty questions and to motivate the team to be even bolder; I had to make sure that they’d always be aware of holding a rough diamond in their hands that needs the right cut and constant polishing.


Give us an overview of the campaign, what is it about?

It’s actually as simple as it can get. We officially changed the name of the brand from Citroën to Zitrön. And I mean officially. The General Manager of Citroën Germany informed the whole German sales team live on their annual conference. The reactions were priceless. We simultaneously changed all logos on the website and on all social media accounts. On top we changed selected stationary and everything that was necessary to make everyone believe that it really could be true. We aired a mockumentary that was partly and secretly shot at the aforementioned sales conference, and we pre-produced content to be able to respond to all possible remarks, questions, doubts and even anger on social media. For the second phase (after the reveal), we created numerous activities to keep the fun alive.


Tell us about the details creative brief, what did it ask?

Citroën turned 100 years in 2019 – which obviously asked for some communication support. While there was a global, beautiful time travelling TVC produced by our friends from BETC in Paris, our client asked us to come up with a specific idea for Germany. It should create big talk value despite having a limited media budget.


Which insight led to the creation of this piece of work?

The Problem is that Citroën is well known in Germany but completely lost its momentum. People don’t talk about Citroën anymore. But we wanted them to talk about Citroën. And making Germans talk in a foreign language is not only a challenge, it’s also extremely funny. Because Germans have their very special way of pronouncing. Our smart thesis was that Germans don’t engage with Citroën because they are basically unable to pronounce it. The simple conclusion: Let’s help them and change the name to what they pronounce anyway: Zitrön.


What was the greatest challenge that you and your team faced during development.

The biggest challenge you are always facing when working on international accounts is the alignment of all stakeholders. In our case we were very lucky that we got a lot of support on all levels. Nevertheless, it’s always making things more complex.


What did you enjoy most about seeing this campaign through? Did you learn anything new from the experience?

Success is obviously the sweetest reward one can get. The entire team (including client, production and partners) was working extremely hard for months. Seeing the campaign jump to #1 at Twitter and Google conversations, having people from all over the world discussing it on Reddit and, most of all, seeing the interaction between people, brands and Citroën was music to our ears and eyes. We were convinced that the idea was strong enough to cut through but when we saw the first postings of other brands mixing our idea with their products (e.g. Fisherman’s Friend), we knew that we have created something outstanding.


Where do you see this campaign going in the future?

Well, Zitrön had its stage. It got its applause and created a new creative basis for the Citroën Brand in Germany. Now we want to continue to surprise and entertain people because it’s in the DNA of this wonderful and unique brand. With the help of Zitrön we proved that people are willing to engage with the brand on a high level. We want to keep this German-French fire burning in the future.