Following on from an earlier column, which looked at companies re-using their old ad campaigns, French car manufacturers Renault have revisited the ‘Va Va Voom’ positioning of its Clio model.

The phenomenally successful 2002 adverts, which featured French footballer Thierry Henry, ran until 2006, when the company stopped using the slogan.

Henry makes a cameo in the new ad, walking around the gallery and enjoying the view – looking through a peep hole, with other voyeurs, as Burlesque star Dita Von Teese performs part of a strip tease.

The advert once again asks ‘what is va va voom?’ while showing movie clips of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Marlon Brando’s iconic ‘I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender’speech from On the Waterfront.

Also featured are David Bowie and a tiny snippet of Rihanna’s new video, S&M.

But it is Dita Von Teese’s strip which is provoking debate.

The ad has already being banned from being shown on UK daytime TV, because Von Teese first displays most of her assets, removing part of her lace lingerie, and then can be glimpsed nude from the waist up, albeit facing away from camera.

You could be forgiven for forgetting about the car entirely, as it only appears at the climax of the ad, as a work of art hanging from the ceiling. But Renault’s advertising has never really focused on the car!

From the ‘Papa, Nicole’ ads of the 1990s to the ‘what is va va voom?’ concept, they sell us a sexy French fantasy and know we will want to be part of it.

All this ‘outrage’ at a woman removing her clothes to sell a car seems ridiculous when compared to the naked women often used to advertise Simple skincare. Presumably that’s ok, because they are naturally naked, in a field, not trussed up in vintage lace? And because in Simple’s case, the product is for the body.

Still, it all smacks of the English hypocrisy to sex.

What is va va voom? this time around it may be just a little too much for the English to handle.

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