Peugeot’s all-new 208 makes its premiere at the Geneva motor show in a fortnight’s time. It’s a bold and ambitious model, targeting none other than the marque’s highly successful 205, made most famous by the iconic 205 GTi.

If regeneration is what the car is all about, then Peugeot’s advertising is very much forward-looking as it pushes the boundaries in size, scale and reach to make sure we all know the 208 is coming.

In the main, those ambitions are being realised, with one slight caveat, which I will come to later. But let’s take a look at ad.

Conceived under the notion; “Let your body drive”, this interactive ad is the second in a series of promotions which kicked off with the Peugeot Motion & Emotion Show in Rio de Janeiro last December.

The ad certainly has balls, as it puts you in the shoes of a naked South African guy who is forced to wander the streets after being caught cheating on his girlfriend.

The commercial plays out a number of scenarios in which you decide which path he takes – “Let your body drive (Yes/No)” – One false step, and the video will end. Choose all the right options, and he ends up in the arms of his beautiful (if slightly annoying girlfriend) again.

So what’s a nude, philandering South African got to do with the new Peugeot 208? Well, according to the French auto manufacturer, the message is clear: the Peugeot 208 is the car for those seeking intense sensations.

And there are certainly plenty of intense sensations to keep you amused on the journey, including cheeky kids on bikes, irate Chinese store owners and some pixellated privates.

Eventually, and I mean ‘only’ if you choose the right path, you get to glimpse the car which the film is supposed to promote. It’s the first hint that all is not well with Peugeot’s marketing campaign for the 208.

Opportunities for improvement

There’s so much about this campaign that’s worth praising. At just over 7 minutes long, Peugeot have been bold enough to assume people will take the time to watch the film – and with over 1 million views already clocked up in less than a week, they’ve clearly succeeded.

But once the ad captures this interest, it doesn’t really do anything with it, apart from directing people to a standard looking product microsite. Likewise, whilst the ad packs in plenty of humorous moments, Peugeot seem almost embarrassed to disturb the viewer’s enjoyment of the film by providing any glimpses of the new 208 (apart from right at the end).

Whilst I understand the story is about ‘intense sensations’, the ad does not succeed, in my opinion, in connecting those sensations with the car. Not even implicitly.

Even putting aside the ads success in promoting the Peugeot 208, it falls short of fulfilling the remit of a true interactive experience because it lacks any social integration whatsoever.

For a campaign with this remit, it should have been possible for people to share their performances on Facebook or Twitter – perhaps scoring their responses within the video (measured by reaction time or number of wrong turns) and then appending a cheeky message to the rating such as ‘looks like you need some intensity in your life – visit your local Peugeot dealer for a prescription’.

It would also have been great to see a caption competition, for each scenario, in which people could enter their own quips either describing ‘what happened next’, or what the characters in the scene said to each other. It would also be relatively straightforward to invite people to submit a parody clip on Peugeot’s YouTube channel, interpreting the film’s meme in their own personal way.

The opportunities for socially integrating this campaign and extending its reach are huge, so it’s puzzling to see Peugeot’s resolve extend no further than the initial creative. Even so, it’s a fun commercial and well worth taking a look at, if only to wonder what could possibly have been so interesting in that book..

The Peugeot Motion & Emotion Show

If you missed the first promotional video for the 208 back in December, then let me bring you up to speed.

In front of thousands of spectators, Peugeot hosted a spectacular light show using the very latest 3D projection mapping and Kinect technologies. During the course of the show, spectators were given a chance to bring the “Let Your Body Drive” signature to life by collectively interacting with the music of the event.

As you can see from the video, it caused quite a stir amongst the attendees and has so far generated 5.4 million views on YouTube and 23,248 social shares – making it Peugeot’s second most successful ad (after the brilliant 206 commercial, which features an Indian Hindustan being shaped into a 206 by an Elephant)

The new Peugeot 208 arrives in the UK from June 2012 and will be available in two distinct body styles; 3 & 5-door with an extensive range of petrol and diesel engines including an all new 3 cylinder petrol power unit and the latest generation of Stop & Start System (e-HDi) diesel engines.

Related: if you’d like to take a closer look at the way in which the length of a branded video affects its uptake and likelihood of being shared, then take a look at my latest article on Econsultancy – Does the size of branded videos matter?

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