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Renault Italy is using Instagram stories and chatbots to sell a limited-edition SUV, a new user experience it’s describing as “on the border between fiction and reality".

The campaign, conceived by Publicis Italia, features manga-style Instagram stories that promote the Japanese-inspired Captur SUV. Prospective customers can watch these so-called ‘Tokyo Stories,’ and then connect with a chatbot of a character from the tales to pre-order the car through Facebook Messenger.

“We wanted to concentrate discussion on social media in order to intercept new audiences that are less keen to come and visit a showroom,” Elisabeth Leriche, advertising and CRM manager at Renault Italy, told The Drum. “But of course, if selling through chatbot reveals itself effective, why not extend the operation and create a profile for all our dealers?

"We’ve been accelerating our process to create real-time marketing to answer our consumer needs, so it’s definitely part of a more global digital strategy.”

Renault claims this to be the first car sold through a chatbot on Facebook Messenger. The campaign was launched on 10 October, and Renault Italy received two orders within 24 hours.

“This very special edition [SUV] is inspired by Tokyo and like the city itself, is a mix of tradition and great innovation,” said Leriche. “Thus, to translate this concept in communication we chose to create an unusual Instagram stories using the traditional language of Manga.”

Leriche said Renault Italy wanted to work with Facebook and Publicis Italia to provide customers seamless navigation between viewing branded content and purchasing.

When asked if there was any concern selling high-value items on Facebook given the recent data breaches, Leriche said Renault Italy does not want to comment on such a “delicate issue,” but there was never any worry about working with Facebook.