Showing posts with label publicity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label publicity. Show all posts

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Cartier panther roams the globe

Cartier spent four million euros on a short film, which took two years to make, to celebrate the 165th anniversary of the prestigious French jewelry firm. During the night, a panther, Cartier's emblem, breaks loose from the jewelry object in which it was enclosed, in the Grand Palais in Paris.

The animal travels through fabulous landscapes in exotic faraway lands. We see the panther skimming across the snow in the company of a horse-drawn sleigh. Then it wanders along the Great Wall of China. On the way home, it visits the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, and hops aboard an archaic aircraft headed for Paris. Finally, the panther finds its way to the Place Vendôme, where the headquarters of Cartier are located. And a glamorous Carole Bouquet leads the animal back into its home.

There's a YouTube version of this amazing video:

You can also visit the Cartier website [access] to see a full-screen display of the movie.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Métro animals

Readers have often heard me evoking the fascinating concept of an upside-down world [display] in which people, animals and other things don't seem to be in their right places. I've also pointed out that this concept has in fact inspired my Antipodes blog [display], right from the start. Viewed from France, folk in Australia seem to be walking with their feet in the air. And I would imagine that French people, seen from a Down Under viewpoint, would appear to be behaving similarly.

In French literature, the upside-down theme of anthropomorphic animals reached a summit in the celebrated Fables of the poet Jean de la Fontaine. In fact, they were an evolution of the oral fables attributed to the legendary Greek author Aesop. Every French schoolchild has heard these fables, and know some of them off by heart. So, the notion that moral tales involving animals can teach us virtue is deeply integrated into the French mindset. It's not surprising that authorities concerned about the decline of civility in the Paris métro have resorted to animals to obtain illustrations of bad manners.

This buffalo, barging into the compartment with his head down, is preventing people from getting off.

In a crowded compartment, this lazy sloth wants to sit down and spread his legs out:

This chicken is screeching out on her mobile phone:

Instead of paying for a ticket, this frog prefers to jump over the turnstile:

And, in a corridor of the métro, this llama is spitting out chewing-gum:

It's a pity, I feel, that the creators behind this campaign didn't think of looking around, on the contrary, for exemplary illustrations of nice animals behaving in a perfectly correct manner in the Paris métro.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Perrier commercial

This outstanding video is being shown regularly on French TV:

What's more, Perrier is an outstanding drink.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Arrow humor

Back in Paris, I used to collect all kinds of documents in which arrows were used—in one way or another—as metaphorical symbols. At a comical level, this was one of my favorites:

The dispirited fellow is trying to pen a short message (to be published in a newspaper, no doubt, because this was well before the birth of the Internet) that might enable him to find a female. We can read the first three versions, all of which have been crossed out and discarded. I've expanded the abbreviations and translated them into English:

Man, 40 years old, dynamic, intelligent, cultivated, sense of humor, is seeking a young woman, maximum age 28, for a private relationship.

Male, new style, is looking for a moderate feminist, maximum age 28, for contacts of a different kind, prospective happiness.

Creative guy, tender and intense, wishes to encounter a young woman of 28 for excursions into space-time.

The final version is definitely less inspired, more down to earth:

Fellow, depressive, inwardly phallocratic, outwardly open-minded, is looking for anything at all, maximum age 28, so he can listen to her moaning.

As you can see, Cupid is somewhat dubitative about the tone of the looking-for-love message, and it's not at all obvious that he's about to fire an arrow at a lucky 28-year-old female.

The cartoonist Claire Brétecher is celebrated in the French-speaking world for her depictions of frustrated adolescents (female, above all) trying to come to terms with modern society, parents, peer companions, sexuality, etc. In the case of the present cartoon, Brétecher worked for the Parker pen company, whose elegantly-designed writing implements have always been associated with the arrow symbol. Notice, for example, that the arrow held by Cupid is identical to the model found in the Parker logo. Notice too (a subtle detail) that the fellow has several pens on his table, enabling him to use differing nib widths and handwriting styles for his trial-and-error attempts at lecherous self-marketing.

The French company was courageous in calling upon Brétecher to create this excellent cartoon for their publicity. Today, I'm not sure that many big companies would be prepared to link their marketing communications to this kind of second-degree humor evoking primitive machism.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

America's gift to Japan

The time-honored French TV show called Culture Pub appears to have huge archives of all the publicity-oriented video stuff produced throughout the world. They found this little gem from the 1980s in which a US corporation congratulates itself proudly on being so kind as to have sold nuclear reactors to Tepco in Japan. Today, I can imagine the Japanese bowing politely and crying out with a single voice: "Thank you, General Electric!"

The French-language subtitle at the beginning states: "Tokyo has been equipped with the safest reactors in the world." In French, that kind of offering is referred to as a poisoned gift.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fedex employees would appear to be nitwits

This delightful Fedex publicity video paints a deplorable picture of the intellect and imagination of their employees, even though they come across as remarkably honest guys, on whom you can depend.

The guy needs to be woken up. By way of a tip, the lady might have thrown a coconut to (or rather at) him.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Doctors know best

Ancient ads such as this one show just how much progress has been made since those carefree days when people believed naively in publicity messages, just as they believed that smoking was an elegant and harmless social behavior.

Retrospectively, I'm always amazed that a company would have decided to name its cigarettes Camel. It's a term that evokes bad breath, combined with the fleeting thought that maybe the flavor is obtained by mixing a small quantity of camel shit with the tobacco… maybe rather a small quantity of tobacco with the camel shit.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Food for the Antipodes

I found these reproductions of old-fashioned French-language publicity cards on the web. These charming images were designed to sell Liebig meat extract to Australians.

I couldn't find any mention of dates, but the Liebig brand—designed for the marketing of the famous meat-extract product—came into being in 1865. The inventor of this stuff was a German chemist, Justus von Liebig. The illustrations evoke a colorful land of adventure, with Aborigines shown wearing bright garments in the style of Pacific Islanders. It's hard to say whether Liebig's graphic artist had ever set foot in Australia… but I don't think so. In view of the distinctly rural themes, I'm wondering what kind of potential customers they had in mind. Did they imagine that they might feed their meat extract to the Aborigines, or to Outback bushmen? Now, if only they had been advertising Vegemite, I'm sure they would have achieved more spectacular business results. Maybe a Liebig specialist, reading my blog, might tell us whether this advertising campaign was successful.

Justus von Liebig won fame, above all, as the "father of the fertilizer industry". No, that doesn't mean that surplus stocks of their meat extract were spread out over the fields to grow better vegetables and crops. It evokes the inventor of the so-called Law of the Minimum, also known as Liebig's Law, which states that plant growth will diminish as soon as a single required nutrient is missing, even if all the other nutrients are present. He likened the situation metaphorically to a wooden bucket with a stave that's too short, causing a lot of yield potential to be lost.

It's amazing, the sophisticated notions you can come up with when you start out making soup.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Have suitcase, will travel

A long time ago, a TV ad for a detergent for washers demonstrated how you could squirt tomato ketchup onto a dish towel, then tie it in knots before putting it into the machine, and it would emerge spotless thanks to the power of this powder. Coluche, the much-loved French comic who was killed on the French Riviera in 1986 when his motor-cycle collided with a truck, used to point out that it was time-consuming and wearisome to tie knots in all your dirty clothes, and then have to untie them after they're washed clean.

For reasons of a similar kind, I would be reluctant to invest in the suitcases shown in the following ad:

I've grown accustomed to suitcases on tiny wheels that you can drag along behind you in train stations and airports. Besides, I'm getting on in years. For me, it would be a rather strenuous burden if I now had to master this amazing new way of moving around with a suitcase.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Babies sell French water

Evian mineral water from a locality of that name in the Haute-Savoie department, marketed by the Danone corporation, is a huge commercial success throughout the world. A few years ago, Evian decided to use the theme of water babies in their publicity:

Then they created an amazing children's chant, with a hypnotic effect, as an accompaniment for their so-called water-boy video:

Today, Evian offers us a spectacular demonstration of baby rollers:

You can find several Internet articles and videos that reveal the secrets of how the movie was made.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

When the world was wonderful

This publicity photo for the Citroën model DS was taken in Italy in 1961. What a nice clean image! It's hard to believe that we're looking at a scene that's almost half a century old. The heroine of the idyll is, of course, the shiny automobile, with a Milano license plate. Its chocolate gleam echoes the tones of the windows of the contemporary office block in the background, while the three elegant gentlemen on the sidewalk wear suits of the same hue... at a time when males in the English-speaking business world (I was employed by IBM in Sydney at that time) were clothed in gray or navy blue. Then there's the presence in the background of a slim blond secretary, clothed in a pale shade of reinforced concrete. Notice how she's positioned on the outskirts of the man's world, ready to dash off a letter in shorthand if ever one of the males were to call upon her services. But the men aren't really interested in this poor female outsider. Their true goddess is parked alongside, waiting to be caressed. [The letters DS are pronounced déesse in French, which means goddess.]

Apparently Citroën plans to bring out a new version of the DS. I wonder how they'll update their publicity photo...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Gulp it down

The ad says: A frank discussion at last on a subject that has long been taboo. The elegant fellow is asking his sophisticated but timid lady friend if she swallows it. Cigarette smoke, that is.

Today, we have extravagant TV publicity for perfumes and all kinds of body-oriented products. We've become blasé about what and just how much we're being asked to swallow. But it would be irreligious if ever we were to forget the glorious days of cigarette publicity.

The idea of believing in yourself implied, of course, that you should pay no attention to annoying people who claim that smoking might be a terrible danger. For example: What's all the talk about plutonium?

Click the banner to access a delightful collection of smoking ads assembled by the faculty of medicine of Stanford University.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Not ready to discard my Mac

I've played the following video several times, in an attempt to grasp its profound meaning:

It certainly doesn't make me want to throw away my Mac and move to MicroShit. On the other hand, this sketch with Mr Bean is charming:

It's amusing to see that the Apple ads of the "I'm a Mac... and I'm a PC" series have created what might be called a publicity paradigm, in the sense that they're being used as a yardstick of excellence. PC people realize that they can't create anything better than these ads, which viewers are not likely to forget overnight, so they merely try to jump on the bandwagon in one way or another, in a vain attempt to borrow the Apple momentum.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Juicy publicity

Before this sexy ad was aired, few people were aware that all kinds of exotic creatures have a craving for orange-flavored soda water:

It makes you feel like saying: "Yes please, I would like to have some of the same stuff." Apparently, in Britain, this video was judged to be far too sensually explicit. In France, it didn't raise an eyebrow.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Ads you won't see

From time to time, we hear of publicity campaigns that get totally screwed up by current events even before they're launched... as distinct from the achievement of the John McCain crew, who needed to actually launch their latest anti-Obama campaign in order to get it screwed up.

In France, a creative genius in an ad agency had a brilliant idea for a campaign concerning a new automobile. The idea is that Dad has just purchased this vehicle, and he's driving his kids to school. But he's so infatuated by his new car that he simply forgets the kids on the back seat and just carries on driving for hours, absentmindedly. The planned tag lines were:

7.42 am: Your kids are on the back seat, ready to be driven to school.
3.37 pm: Your kids are still on the back seat.

What a great idea for an amusing ad. The only trouble is that, over the last few weeks, there were two separate cases of a French parent simply forgetting their child in a parked automobile. And the kids in question died as a result of the suffocating heat.

More recently, in Canada, the Greyhound bus company was about to lunch a campaign centered upon the relaxed atmosphere of overland bus travel. [I agree with their good intentions. Around 1985, I had the thrill of crossing Australia in this way on two occasions.] Sadly, their planned tag line evoking the absence of "bus rage" was ruined at the last minute by a crazy guy with a big knife and a taste for human flesh. So, I guess we'll never know the exact nature of the "reason" that the Greyhound folk had in mind.


Talking about things that might not be brought to the attention of readers, I'm wondering whether my compatriots in Australia have heard about a 39-year-old psychopathic Frenchman who's accused of having murdered, apparently in a fit of insanity, an 11-year-old boy. Here are police drawings of the accused fellow and his 49-year-old female companion:

At the time they were captured, a couple of days ago, they were trying to spread the message that they were "Australian pilgrims" who had come to France on a mysterious mission of destruction. My neighbor Madeleine, who doesn't necessarily bother to digest news stuff she picks up on TV, asked me yesterday: "Did you see that story about an evil Australian couple who murdered a child not far from here? " I had trouble convincing Madeleine that the suspected murderer and his lady friend are untraveled natives of France, with no links whatsoever to Australia, except maybe as hallucinations in their distorted minds.

It's a little spooky that diabolical fuckwits of this kind [caught out by a DNA analysis] might imagine Australia—which, most probably, they totally ignore—as a plausible origin. Where could they have picked up the idea that Australia is a likely place from which "pilgrims" might decide to set out on a satanic mission to France? One guess is that this association might be based upon recent Catholic Youth ballyhoo they glimpsed on TV when the pope was visiting Sydney. Or maybe they've been watching too many exotic Aussie travelogues.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Subliminal phallic stuff

I've always imagined that a lot of publicity is deliberately subliminal, in the sense that the reactions of viewers depend upon perceptions that are not necessarily explicit. Subterranean, like moles in your garden.

For the last few months, a major French bank named Société Générale [a member of the elite club of sponsors of the recent Rugby World Cup] has been airing weird and complicated TV ads that—to my mind—simply don't add up. To me, at first sight, it would appear that the bank's ad agency is incompetent, lunatic, indeed stupid. But I might be wrong. Maybe the bank has in fact succeeded in reaching viewers and potential customers through these strange ads. There might well be method in their madness. I'm obliged to give the Société Générale the benefice of the doubt. So, let me tell you what it's all about...

First, this bank has been using intensively an unexpected theme song: Winchester Cathedral by the New Vaudeville Band. I used to imagine it was a Beatles thing. If I understand correctly, you'll find the original presentation in the second half of the following video clip:

Why would a French bank decide to use such a theme song in their publicity? I'm incapable of answering this question. I warned you, at the beginning of this blog article, that I'm out of my depth. Not exactly drowning, but swimming with difficulty in the publicity pool.

Well, Winchester Cathedral might have been enough. But the bank decided to introduce another weird creature: a human thumb that walks around as if it were a human being. Before going any further, I must inform my non-French readers that there's a trivial expression, coup de pouce [literally, a jolt from a thumb], which designates—in Beatles parlance—"a little help from my friends". A coup de pouce might be described as last-minute heaven-sent assistance of a practical kind. For example, if you happened to be painting your garden furniture and it looked like a storm was brewing, your neighbor might provide you with a coup de pouce by stepping in and helping you to finish the paintwork before the rain arrived. In English, I think the equivalent expression is "a helping hand". That's to say, the French have reduced our hand to a thumb, while retaining the sense of the metaphor.

OK. We now know what a coup de pouce is all about. But the publicity experts of the Société Générale wanted to go one step further and actually visualize a human thumb lending a hand in all kinds of situations. The general publicity idea is that, whenever you see the footed thumb moving in to help somebody, you can and should imagine the Société Générale bank acting similarly.

Basically—a priori, as philosophers like to put it—there's nothing wrong with this reasoning. But the publicity experts of the Société Générale bank have apparently insisted upon the presence of a real-life visual human thumb in the middle of their ads. And the problem is that this graphical thumb looks exactly, for all intents and purposes, like a delightful animated prick.

In this latest image, the giant thumb/prick is even ejaculating its beneficial liquidity (in a banking sense) upon a virginal plant. To be truthful, I admire this crazy stuff. I feel reassured [for want of a better word] by the presence of the great pink prick with agile feet [balls?], sponsored by the Société Générale bank, dashing around like a horny Boy Scout, dispensing its urine and/or sperms to anybody who feels like getting stuffed. To be even more truthful, I must admit that I turn off this nasty bank shit as soon as it pollutes my TV screen.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

World's greatest video publicity library

Ever since first arriving in France, 45 years ago, I've appreciated the overall excellence of French publicity. A highly visible symbol of movie publicity—handled by the firm of Jean Mineur [1902-1985]—was the little fellow who hurled a whirling sickle at a bull's-eye target. French cinema audiences grew up with this cunning midget.

Another constant presence was the creative work of Raymond Savignac [1907-2002], whose colorful posters appeared everywhere in France, on walls, billboards and in the Parisian underground stations. He became famous overnight through his pink Normandy cow that produced milk-based soap:

In an international context, it might be said: Show me your publicity, and I'll tell you what kind of a society you are. It's a fact that US publicity often smells like the fresh ink and crisp paper of new banknotes, and sounds like the ring of an old-fashioned cash register. British publicity invariably exploits quaint caricatural characters with strange accents. Australian publicity often looks homemade, like a cart that Dad has assembled for his kids. Scandinavian publicity can be stark, like a TV reality show. As for French publicity, it often appears to be the work of would-be cineasts who are obliged to earn their living (richly) lauding products such as perfume, yoghurt and automobiles for the simple reason that nobody has ever invited them (yet) to create feature-length art films.

For 18 years, up until 2005, the phenomenon of publicity throughout the world was examined in depth in an interesting weekly TV program called Culture Pub, which became a cult program among publicity aficionados. Yesterday, Culture Pub reappeared as a website:

Its collection of thousands of online publicity videos—including over 60 Australian specimens [display]—is presented as the biggest library of this kind in the world.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Qantas bull

Most news websites are now polluted with ads. I'm often annoyed, when concentrating upon an interesting article, to find a totally irrelevant publicity video flashing in a corner of my screen. In such situations, I usually resize the window so that the ad noise is no longer visible. Well, this morning, while reading the Australian press, my eyes were attracted by the image of the forehead of a curious grey beast, branded with an expression that meant nothing to me: earth+.

Behind the grey head, the whitish background seemed to be a sloping snow field. Was the animal a yak? Maybe a cloned mammoth? Then I saw the textual part of the ad:

Everything fell into place. It was a nice friendly grey-haired bull. What I had mistaken for trees on a sloping snow field was simply the animal's right horn. And I was watching Australia's national airline doing its best to maintain the regular statistics concerning drunken Aussies getting gored in Pamplona. But I remained intrigued by the image of the Qantas bull, which just didn't seem right. I wondered where on earth+ the ad agency had photographed this grey-haired animal. Maybe it was a retired senior Spanish bull purchased specially by the ad agency for its photos. It's more likely, though, that this bovine photo presents a young Australian breed of beef cattle (maybe a harmless steer or a cow) and that the ad shows only a small area around the animal's eyes for the simple reason that a larger view would reveal instantly that the beast in the photo has no connections whatsoever with bull running in Pamplona. In other words, they're trying to pull the bull over our eyes.

Here's an image of an authentic black Pamplona bull about to gore a fellow who might well be a Qantas earth+ tourist:

I'm wondering whether earth+ aims to attract Irwin-inspired Aussie animal-lovers who might be enticed by the idea of hopping across to Spain next July to watch a nice presentation of friendly grey-haired bulls skipping through the picturesque streets of this balmy town. I can imagine a future Qantas ad in which Bindi is feeding popcorn to the charming beasts of Pamplona, with a choir of angels in the background singing Still call Australia home. [To rediscover a celebrated specimen of Qantas publicity work, click here to see my article of 18 February 2007 entitled Watch out for life!]

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Canon dog

I like this French Canon publicity featuring a multicolored dog. [Click on the banner to display it.] It's crazy but lovely, like a multicolored dog.