For DS AUTOMOBILES in France, 2015 was a most eventful landmark year. This was the year the DS brand was launched, marking a return to the prestige motor market for the French automotive industry. In 2015, DS laid solid foundations for a long-term strategy: a strong brand identity was asserted; new products were released (New DS 5, New DS 4, DS 4 Crossback, limited-edition models, etc.); a premium customer experience was developed (DS STORE, specialist DS customer advisors, DS Privilège Club, etc.); innovative communications programmes and the DS WEEK in May were run.

Amaury de Bourmont, General Manager for the DS and CITROËN in France since early October: "On taking office I was hugely impressed by the wide-reaching enthusiasm, both in-house and throughout the dealer network. New DS 5 had been released a couple of months previously, and New DS 4 and DS 4 Crossback were about to follow. What struck me most was the progress achieved by such a young brand in such a short time, since the start of the year. So 2015 will certainly be remembered as a landmark date, the year we set down firm roots for on-going development and brilliant future."

March 2015, new brand identity... May 2015, celebrations

DS AUTOMOBILES revealed its brand identity on 3 March 2015, at the Geneva International motor show, with its distinctive badge and the Spirit of Avant-Garde* tagline, expressing the philosophy behind the DS endeavour to offer customers cars with outstanding style, advanced technologies, refinement, attention to detail, and exemplary comfort and vigour. "Spirit of Avant-Garde" also voices a wider-reaching outlook, with DS extending an open invitation to share an optimistic, forward-looking temperament.

Motivation ran high at the DS WEEK event on 22 May in Paris, timed to celebrate launch of the DS brand and the sixtieth anniversary of the original 1955 DS. DS executives met up with some 600 dealership owners and sales managers to discuss brand strategy and ambitions.

2015, a wealth of new products and features

There was a steady stream of new products and upgrades throughout the year. New features included powerful, efficient engines across the range, DS LED VISION headlamps with LED and Xenon technologies plus new scrolling indicators, the EAT6 latest-generation automatic transmission, and a touchscreen supporting the New Mirror Screen function, which duplicates Smartphone applications on the car's screen for safe, at-the-wheel operation.

Limited-edition releases included several models emphasizing the chic, versatile and sparkling personality of the eminently customizable DS 3: DS 3 Inès de la Fressange Paris (January 2015), DS 3 Emeraude Addict (March 2015), DS 3 Dark Light (September 2015) and DS 3 "1955" (launched at the DS WEEK event in May 2015).

New models came in June 2015, with New DS 5, the DS flagship model and the first DS to sport the DS Wings brand identity, and November 2015, with New DS 4 and DS 4 Crossback, two outlines addressing the expectations of customers in the premium compact segment. All the new cars assert the DS brand ambition to extol the best in French prestige automotive know-how.

Sales results for the second half of 2015 corroborate the enthusiasm shown by the public at the many appearances made by the new models at events nationwide in France, at dealership locations and regional motor shows (Lyon, Toulouse).

For the last six months of 2015, DS registrations in France outpaced market growth (6.6 % up on second half of 2014) by 8.6 %. And the figure rose to 19.3 % for the last quarter (compared to market growth with respect to the fourth quarter of 2014). One of the factors behind this successful sales performance is undoubtedly the growing interest in French-made cars with an avant-garde style that marks a radical departure from classic premium automobile design.



2015, premium customer experience and innovative communications

By the end of the year, DS customers could enjoy an immersive DS experience at any of the 39 DS STORES and DS SALONS. Following the first DS STORE opened in Royan in 2014, six more DS STORES (dedicated DS outlets) opened in France in 2015, in Paris, Dijon, Troyes, Lyon, Lille and Rouen, along with ten DS SALONS (DS areas in Citroën showrooms).

The immersive experience also carries over to the web, with the new www.driveDS.fr website that went up in December 2015. This digital showcase, decked out in characteristic DS graphic design, offers visitors features and content on DS products and services. The visually rich magazine format uses an innovative parallax-animation navigation system for an optimally attractive and practical visitor experience. There are specific site routes for DS enthusiasts, DS owners and future customers. The online DS STORE offers intuitive access to these routes, walking the visitor through to product and service information, car configuration and online sale. The website is designed for ongoing upgradeability, and 2016 will see further attractive content (animations, videos) and new features (customization system, integrated configurator, etc.).

Visitors can also keep in touch and interact with DS on the social networks Facebook, Twitter Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube. The DS community in France totals 60,000 members, and the DS marketing strategy gives all due importance to these modern communication channels. In March 2015, DS revealed its brand identity to people in 39 countries through a live webcast of the press conference at the Geneva International Motor Show via the Facebook platform, an operation that reached 3.2 million people in France.

DS practises innovative communications consistent with its avant-garde spirit, as illustrated by its partnerships with select brand ambassadors, people who excel in their chosen fields. There were three such brand ambassadors for release of new DS 5: fashion designer Iris Van Herpen, who uses innovative materials in her creations; Sylvestre Maurice, the astrophysicist behind design and control of the robot camera on-board the Rover Curiosity vessel currently on the planet Mars; and Zhang Hai Ao, chief designer of the sun-shaped Kempiski Hotel in Beijing, an extraordinary feat of engineering excellence.

The latest DS brand ambassador, a central feature in the release campaign for New DS 4 and DS 4 Crossback, is Joël Dicker, author of the best-seller The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair. The campaign, primarily digital, on the www.nouvelleDS4.fr website, offers viewers an unusual experience with the keynotes on suspense and escapade. Joël Dicker stars alongside New DS 4 in a thriller web series entitled The DS Writer, the trailer for which has been viewed by 2.6 million people in France. And as well as this film involvement, Joël Dicker has also written a short story specially for DS. The print version of For Insiders Only is handed out exclusively to people test-driving New DS 4 or DS 4 Crossback.

Rollout of the DS customer experience has also involved training of DS specialist customer advisors. They number 550 today, at all French sites where DS cars are sold. The customer experience continues after vehicle purchase, through the DS Privilège Club. And further customer advantages include exclusive events, a private concierge service, and preview information. More than 200 events took place in 2015.

To sum up, we set the ball rolling in 2015, and momentum will be gathering in 2016.