Renault disputed the perception that the commercial or the polish sale was sexist. Twingo cars target "urban women who enjoy customization of their cars," a Renault spokesman said, noting that the video didn't show a woman who can't park properly.
Renault's press department told 20 Minutes, a French newspaper, that the polish was "not meant for exclusive use by women. The main objective is to make life easier for our clients, whether male or female."
The Twingo nail polish is being manufactured by the Paris-based cosmetics startup Ink and Out, the owner of the De Blangy brand. The polish has been on sale at Renault's workshops and on its website since Monday for 8.90 euros ($10). The polish is for sale for a short while, said the Renault spokesman.
Renault is not the first automaker to to link its cars to fashion and style in an effort to appeal to women as well as men.
In 2005, Ford Motor collaborated with OPI, a cosmetics company, on three polishes that matched Mustang colors. In 2014, they again teamed up to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Mustang with six shades of polish. The evocatively named colors included Race Red, 50 Years of Style, Queen of the Road, Girls Love Ponies, Angel With a Leadfoot and The Sky's My Limit.
In fact nail polish and car paint go back a long way.
Michelle Menard, a French makeup artist, is generally credited with creating the first modern nail polish in the early 1920s by formulating a lacquer similar to that used to paint cars. According to some sources, Menard worked for a company owned by Charles Revson, who with his brother created the cosmetics giant Revlon. In any event, Revlon first brought pigmented nail enamel in bright colors to market in the early 1930s, and the product became the foundation of the company's success.
The Revson name is tragically familiar to racing fans. Peter Revson, one of Charles Revson's nephews and an heir to the cosmetics fortune, was one of the United States' most accomplished and versatile drivers in the 1960s and early 1970s before being killed in a crash during practice for the South African Grand Prix in 1974. His younger brother Douglas was killed in a crash in a Formula 3 race in 1967.
There's no reason why nail polish won't work to hide scratches and dings, but it's probably not the best choice, automotive paint experts said.
Joerg Zumkley, a spokesman for the coatings division of BASF, an automotive coatings supplier, said nail polish "does not fulfill the functionality of an automotive coating such as UV protection, corrosion protection or protection against stone chips."
Further, automotive finishes are sprayed on, he said. "If you use the brush of your nail polish to remove scratches, you will see it," he said.
He also added a caution: "You cannot use automotive paint as nail polish as you would have to flash it at high temperature – which would harm your fingers."
Bloomberg contributed to this report