The image you see above is the most revealing that I, a fully accredited member of the press, could manage to take of the CItroen DS Inside concept.
Is Citroen ashamed of the DS Inside? Or more specifically, are they ashamed of using the DS name on such an underwhelming product?
As I traipsed the show floor on Monday searching for inspiration, I kept passing the Citroen stand. I was keeping my eye out for the the inheritor of one of motoring history’s great names. After about the 5th fly-by, I realised that something was up.
I noticed an opening at the back of the stand, guarded by a velvet rope and a heavy-set Frenchman. There was a small gathering of people and the bloke was letting them in one by one.
I strutted over, flashed my pass and was admitted to the tiniest night club I’ve ever experienced. Electronica, mirrors and strobe lights saw me immediately dazed and confused. Then, for a split second, a single source of illumination hit the hitherto dark object in the centre of the room: It was the DS Inside.
Camera at the ready, I started snapping away, only for the lights to go spasmodic again, rendering any meaningful observation impossible. I skulked out, feeling somewhat queasy and totally cheated.
I’ve recently questioned whether it’s wise for Citroen to use such an evocative, powerful piece of their history as the namesake for their new mainpremium products. I lived in hope that their marketing chutzpah and the initial product, the DS Inside, would be ballsy enough to give some hope for the future of the DS brand.
That the car, from what I could see, is cute but totally average was a forgone conclusion. The press images released two weeks ago showed that and it gains and loses nothing in the flesh.
What was really mortifying was just how ashamed Citroen seemed to be in showing the car. It did not come across as cool, hip or nonchalant to show the DS Inside in a black box. It came across as weak, as if they regretted bringing the car here at all, much less slapping a DS badge on the nose.
I realise that I’ve been going on about this DS thing for a while now, and this will probably be the last post on the topic until the next travesty is launched (if I can summon up the passion at that time). Sadly, the damage has now been done and I’ll be surprised if Citroen can turn the DS brand around from its anti-launch without a complete re-think of their product.
A word of advice to Citroen and any other brand considering a challenging product concept launch (Lagonda, I’m looking at you), give a design strategist a call. We live and breath your brands, marketing and design. We’ll be more than happy set you right.