Citro&#235n risks Schiffer ads controversy

Citroë is courting controversy with a new 6m TV campaign that has supermodel Claudia Schiffer stripping.

The car maker and its agency EURO RSCG Wnek Gosper claim the ad has researched favourably among women. But they face complaints that they are exploiting sex to sell the coupé version of the Citroë Xsara, which has been specially adapted for the UK market.

The ads, which break next week, feature Schiffer walking down a set of stairs removing her clothes as she walks to her car. Finally as she drives off in her Xsara, she drops her knickers out of the window in preference to “wearing the car”.

Between October and the end of March, Citro&235n sold 6,631 Xsaras in the UK. Marketing director Mike Ibbett says: “I am not concerned with Xsara’s performance. It has been slow, but I am not disappointed. The coupé will inject some impetus, but it always takes a while to get going.”

Ibbett says the TV advertising is an attempt to define the positioning of the brand as stylish and fashionable.

Schiffer appeared in the launch campaign for Xsara in continental Europe, but the ad, in which an airbag came to her rescue in a crash, was not shown in the UK because of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.

The model will also feature in poster work for the Xsara estate which is launched next month.

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