Eagle-eyed fans will notice that the E21 will be sporting a very prominent new logo during the Korean Grand Prix weekend. It may seem unfamiliar to European audiences, but the logo and oval of Renault Samsung Motors will be immediately recognizable to Korean viewers.
The RSM logos will be emblazoned on the E21’s engine cover and nosecone; replacing the customary Renault name and Losange diamond. RSM will also sit proudly on the drivers’ overalls and garage backdrops; substituting the distinctive Renault branding for the entire weekend.
Apologies to the conspiracy theorists, but this is far from a change in engine power; or a radical change in Renault’s corporate strategy. It is rather a way for RSM – a Renault subsidiary developing and retailing vehicles in the fast-growing South Korean automobile market – to promote its brand within a notoriously competitive domestic market using one of the country’s most high-profile sporting events.
Olivier Gillet, Renault Sport F1 head of marketing, explains: “Formula 1 is a global sport, but it is also a perfect opportunity for markets to engage with their local media and clients. Renault Samsung Motors is a strong domestic brand with a large market share in South Korea, however this opportunity allows it to reach more eyeballs over a weekend and to associate itself with a fast-paced, competitive, high performing sport. The Korean Grand Prix is undoubtedly one of the premium events in the country over the sporting season, receiving hourly hits across TV, print and social media channels; in every sense, an advertisers’ dream.
“This rebrand is part of an extensive 360° marketing campaign within Korea. Local press, dealers and clients will visit the Korean Grand Prix over the weekend. It is unprecedented for us to change our branding, but Korea is also a very unique market. It goes to show how Formula 1 is now fully incorporated into the entire brand’s marketing strategy. The change in branding will be for the Korean Grand Prix only and the Renault logos – in their full glory – will return for the Japanese Grand Prix one week later. At that point, we hope that RSM will have received justifiable coverage on the side of the E21; even more so if Romain or Kimi finish on the podium again!”
Renault Samsung Motors was created in 2000 when Renault purchased a majority stake in Samsung Motors. Rapid development has seen it become one of the most significant markets within the group, with 5% of the Renault group’s workforce now employed by RSM. The dealer network is one of the largest in the country, with close to 200 dealerships across the Korean peninsula.
In addition to selling Renault vehicles rebranded in the local vernacular, the company has built ultra-modern production and design facilities across the region. A huge facility in Busan – to the south of the country – is responsible for producing parts for cars including the Fluence and Latitude. It has a production capacity of 300 000 units a year, with facilities including highly-automated powertrain and bodywork shops and production processes.
Additionally, the Kihueng Renault Samsung Technical Center (RSTC) near Seoul brings together Korean, Japanese and French engineers and technicians. It includes a prototype center and specialized test facilities (chassis, powertrain, emission control, electronics, safety, and so on). Furthermore, the RSM Design centre is a part of the Renault Design network, and the design bridgehead for the Renault group in Asia. It is also a window on the latest Asian trends – hugely important in the fast-paced Asian market. Renault Samsung Motors also sells cars in Chile.