This Ad Promoting a French Spy Thriller Is Just as Exciting as the Series Itself

BETC’s work for Canal+ is visually stunning

Up, up and away. Canal+ / BETC
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What goes through the minds of talented screenwriters? If it’s the team behind the wildly popular Canal+ shows The Young Pope, Versailles and The Bureau, be ready for a great deal of imagination and a wild ride. The latest from Canal+ is another in a series of ads that do something pretty unique: celebrate the talent of the screenwriters responsible for what’s on the screen.

The 90-second ad “The Idea,” directed by Ivan Grbovic, is a frenetically paced, well-produced and visually stunning gem that promotes the brand’s new positioning, Canal+ Creates.

In a nod to Canal+’s lauded spy series, The Bureau, a fiery ball from the sky sucks up all manner of things relevant to the show, including flying passports, prison camps and police hiding in trucks. Additionally, other, seemingly puzzling pieces of the crowd are part of the story like clowns, a randomly placed Panda bear and a huge octopus on top of a building.

But that’s the whole point according to Stéphane Xiberras, BETC Paris CCO and president.

“People who watch our ads for Canal+ often ask me: ‘talking bears, unicorn balls, 80-year-old Spitfire pilots. Where do you get it all from?’ The answer is ‘from inside our heads,’ and that’s the whole theme of this film, to show the process of how an idea is born, the mysterious ways in which our minds associate one bizarre element to another,” he said.

For his part, Xiberras is appreciative of the creative latitude given by the pay-TV platform. While it would be easy to say that the work feels “French” in its ambition and style, he notes that, like the Canal+ platform, a lot is going on and it works to inform a universal, albeit sprawling approach.

“(Canal+) trusts us, which is very important,” he said. “This allows us to create work that people, not just in France, anticipate. Sometimes (the shows and ads) are funny. Sometimes they are more serious. Sometimes they are a little bit weird. This is a way (for the ads) to say that Canal+ has everything, is sometimes unexpected, and is key to the platform.”

What is French, however, is the spirit of the brief. The Canal+ platform is not cheap and, to Xiberras, the premium feel of the product demands the same of its advertising.

“We invest a lot to show people that Canal+ is very special,” he said. “We express this spirit through the brief, which is to make an impact while consumers feel a certain ‘je ne sais quoi.’


Client: Canal+
Client Management: Mathilde Villette, Eugénie Rodrigues, Céline Pontygayot
Agency: BETC
Agency Management: Guillaume Espinet, Mathilde Lançon, Pierre-Alain Moreau
Executive Creative Director: Stéphane Xiberras
Art Director: Rayhaan Khodabux
Copywriter: Rémi Campet
Traffic: Elodie Diana
Tv Producer: David Brakha, Isabelle Menard
Production: Wanda
Sound Production: Schmooze
Director: Ivan Grbovic
Post Production: Mikros Image

@zanger Doug Zanger is a senior editor, agencies at Adweek, focusing on creativity and agencies.
Publish date: October 18, 2018 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT