Martin de Fleurian is a co-founder of creative and content agency House of Greenland which works with Red Bull, BT and others. A former brand manager of Google UK, he offers a Gallic perspective.
Desert Island Ads
Us French, we have a reputation for arrogance. And while we’d like to slate it as mere jealousy, we have to admit there are some grounds for that reputation.
But the way I see it, it often is just a big misunderstanding – with what’s felt as arrogance merely being the act of sharing ways of making things better with the less fortunate around you.
A generous, selfless, educational (and largely unsolicited) act. You’re welcome.
So as a peace offering, and in the off chance I might not end up alone on the island and may run into this cultural trap again, how about I share with you ads that answer the question “what was it like growing up in France in the 80s and 90s?”
Perrier – Lion
Everyone saw and loved that film, but not everyone had un oncle dans la pub growing up. I did. Hi Benoît! This ad was my first glimpse of the world of advertising and, when you live in a village where cows outnumber humans 2:1, well… it was kind of hard to not end up impressed.
Perrier ads WERE the nineties? Classics.
American Express – Wes Anderson
This one’s my co-founder Agathe’s first ad job. Wes Anderson is a non-French cultural icon, a misfit and more than happy to take the p*ss out of himself – so what better choice as a background than a French castle to caricature oneself?
Story time – During the shoot, extras were confused and would go get their coffee at the fake, diegetic crew table, instead of the real one…
Orangina – What’s the Line? AHHH!
Would I get to take some Orangina to the island? If not, and I’m stuck with coconuts, then this ad will at least keep me entertained. It takes the product’s perceived weakness (the fruit bits falling to the bottom), and makes it a strength. Shake before opening! It also was the start of a great run, or a series of these ridiculous characters getting shaken in all sorts of creative and fun ways. Filmmaker and living god Alain Chabat used to be the king of fake ads, so obviously, his real ones won’t be entirely what you’d expect.
Nike – The Cage
If the British press is to be believed, there’s a football tournament going on at the moment. That’s cute. Nothing of the sort is happening. France didn’t get eliminated by Switzerland. It’s all a lie.
But if that’s football you’re after, what better to watch than the greatest football ad saga of all time? Even surrounded by some of the biggest names in football, Cantona steals the spotlight without even playing. Yes, it’s the 2nd time a non-French ad in my échantillon, but I don’t care, it stays in there. Class.
If one ad can be used as a source of motivation, of rage to build a raft and exit the island ASAP, it’s this one. Because true, we might annoy at times, but trust us, we experienced that annoyance first hand. Big time.
Drop the word “Juvamine” (a well known vitamin brand) in conversation to any French millennial and the colour will drain from their face, and you’ve lost a friend. The ad itself isn’t great, to put it mildly. But the true evil was in the media planner who bought full-length spots only to book that 10 seconds of annoyance…six times…per ad break!
Are you happy Juvamine? You’re remembered,and that was the whole point right? Please tell us it was worth it. We can’t have sustained that collective punishment in vain.
And last? Not an ad but a plea.
Desert international advertisers, marketers and companies, putting “Le” or “La” in front of something doesn’t make you classy. We’re looking at you, Stella Artois Le Cidre (cider? In Belgium? Really? That one is going to the bottom of the sea.)
PS. Or “La The Beach” I spotted in the wild recently….