Papa & Nicole
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|Papa & Nicole|
|Production||1991 - 1998|
"Papa" and "Nicole" were fictional characters created to advertise the Renault Clio in the United Kingdom between 1991 and 1998. The "Papa!" "Nicole" and "Nicole!" "Papa" verbal exchanges between Nicole and her father during the advertisements were adapted from an original exchange between Nicole Bonnet (played by Audrey Hepburn) and her father (played by Hugh Griffith) in the 1966 film How to Steal a Million. Surveys by Channel 4 and ITV revealed the series as the most popular car advertisements ever made. In 1996, one survey found that Nicole was recognised by more Britons than the Prime Minister John Major, Bob Hoskins or Chris Evans. Renault was found to be the most persuasive advertiser in five European countries in 1994. The advert was designed by the Publicis agency.
Skornik had not passed her driving test when the first Clio advertisements were made.
- Très intéressant ('Interesting', 1991)
- Le rendez-vous ('The meeting', 1992)
- Le ski ('Skiing', 1993)
- Transformation ('Transformation', 1994)
- Maman ('Mum', 1995)
- Le changement ('Moved on', 1996)
- Vies parallèles ('Parallel lives', 1997)
- Le mariage ('The Wedding', 1998)
An all-new second generation Renault Clio was launched in 1998, and with it came the finalé of Nicole's Provençale story.
Much publicity and speculation surrounded the question of whom Nicole would marry. Socialite and 'it girl' Tara Palmer-Tomkinson noted, "I can't understand what she is doing getting married. I mean, she is giving up everything. She is one of the most beautiful, stunning, eligible girls around. She must be off her rocker. I mean, she had everything going for her, driving around the country in her Renault Clio, all at Daddy's, or rather Papa's, expense. I should be so lucky."
The finalé was itself a spoof of the film The Graduate. Wearing a dress by Deborah Milner and a hairstyle by Nicky Clarke, with her ring designed by Stephen Webster, Nicole was led down the aisle to the as-yet-unseen groom. Played during the advertisement break during Coronation Street on 29 May 1998, an estimated 23 million viewers watched Nicole leave Vic Reeves at the altar and start a new life with Bob Mortimer in his new Renault Clio.
Each of the advertisements used Renault's 1980s and 1990s signature tune, Robert Palmer's "Johnny And Mary". Each used a variation of the song, most notably Martin Taylor's acoustic interpretation (an alternative version of which he released on his album Spirit of Django and Renault's promotional compilation, Miles More Music.)
In popular culture
- The £350 dress worn in the first advertisement inspired a £37.99 copy at Selfridges.
- The comedy duo Smith & Jones parodied the advertisements in a sketch showing "Papa" kerb-crawling looking for a prostitute and accidentally attempting to hire the services of a girl who turns out to be "Nicole". The sketch was written by Martin Curtis. (Brown)
- A mid-1990s British Rail advertisement for Intercity trains used lookalikes of Nicole and Papa in a humorous pastiche. "Papa's" train-traveling companion wonders who the young lady is and remarks, "I thought you weren't married."
- Clio TV stars mark the public launch of new Clio Renaultsport 197, easier.com, July 2006
- CAP Online, Nicole? Papa!, Autumn 1995
- CAP Online, Nicole and Papa: a 1990s retrospective, 1999
- BBC, Motor show move struggles to create spark, July 2006
- Nicole and Bob: the inside story, The Birmingham Magazine, Number 10 October 1998