Souvenirs Souvenirs – By @lagoonlynx
Inspired by Joe’s thoughts on Dutch advertising, I thought I’d talk a little about French advertising.
Growing up there always was an ad that had an impact in your school. One that kids couldn’t stop talking about.
I remember that song and line for a phone book being shouted all around the playground. Not comparable to Tango’s impact but still drove a few parents crazy : https://youtu.be/4dZl2ay-W_A
It resonated well in a time where comedians like Michael Young’s humor was standing out and getting talked about.
It is a quite straight answer and strategy to “How to turn something as uninteresting into something that gets talked about”. As weird it may seem, it was a durable concept, as those characters were used for quite some time !
In French advertising culture, ads that don’t take themselves seriously and rely heavily on a line or song getting stuck in your mind was not new. Thierry Ardisson’s work in the 80s must be one of the most famous in that realm
For Ovomaltine, an energy bar : https://youtu.be/h0g9mfTTwi8
For Tropico : https://youtu.be/kU67LCDE74o
All are considered cult for the generation that grew up with them.
That concept for a chocolate desert by Etienne Chatillez came out in between 1999-2001 but I remember the lines were still used by teenagers when I was in high school. I guess we can thank Youtube for that.
(“Tu pousses le bouchon un peu trop loin Maurice” can be translated as “you’re pushing the boundaries too far Maurice”)
Work that relies a lot on child acting or children reactions seems to come out quite often in France and always becomes a favorite.
For that one by TBWA France, made in 2016, kids were recorded playing with the sweets and the best sentences that naturally came out were selected.
When talking about advertising with my parents, they both had at least one ad that impacted them durably. And they usually came to their mind instantly.
My mother always almost cries of laughter when telling me about this one (or is it me when I hear her impersonating the character ?) https://youtu.be/FE9Wm1ByRNU
My mum also confessed she was obsessed with this one. It is universal, and had a huge impact on the brand OMO : https://youtu.be/FLBE8mzfJ-k
My dad mentioned that one : http://www.culturepub.fr/?p=13496
That quite sensational ad from agency BDB, by Jacques Séguéla required the authorization of the French President of the time, François Mitterrand. He gave them access to the military boat and plane.
I can imagine how exciting it was to see this, nowadays it feels so rare to see impressive stunts, even in films. Seeing something that wasn’t done with the help of CGI’s always adds so much emotion.
This one by directed by Jean-Jacques Annaux was also a sensation in the 70s : http://www.culturepub.fr/?p=3028
I feel that the love of stunts a thing at that time in France. Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Marais’s greatest films that came out in the 70s were well known because of the stunts they did themselves. And are still talked about today as iconic cinematographic moments in France.
See Belmondo in Peur sur la ville, jumping from one roof to another in Paris:
After exploring a little the landscape of French advertising, the work of Jean-Paul Goude is really one that stands out for me. Even if I didn’t grow up seeing his work on TV.
His long time collaboration with Chanel is worth knowing. This one for the perfume n°5 with Vanessa Paradis is a personal favorite : https://youtu.be/7VZvI0_Qj6U
Or the perfume, Égoïste: https://youtu.be/ZDwAKK7Wsts
Grace Jones definitely played a big role in making House’s work memorable. See that one for Citroën. https://youtu.be/57OO9EGgdtg
Also obsessed with his collaboration with Lee Cooper. http://www.culturepub.fr/?p=2923
He also worked for Perrier, a brand that always had a very strong personality in advertising : https://youtu.be/cY9VNcsPQ7A
The Perrier Saga is really interesting and full of memorable work. I believe they can be found on Culture Pub, a great website with great archives. It originally was a short tv-show in the 80s, that analyzed the tv ads of the time.
Hopefully I made you want to dive in and explore the history of French advertising !