Ad of the Day: Canal+

A bear calls the shots as a pretentious movie director in BETC's hilarious spot for the French film channel

Bears are usually just comic props in commercials. Not so in this wonderful, hilarious spot for the French movie channel Canal+ by Paris ad agency BETC Euro RSCG.

Here, the bear runs the show—as the director of a medieval action film. The spot opens with a hectic, violent scene from the film itself. But soon, the bear—his name is Paul Bearman—stops the action and strolls out on to the set to dispense advice on everything from the special effects to the acting. The spot then progresses as a mockumentary, with the bear explaining how he developed his passion for cinema. It turns out he's the prototypical Hollywood director—a bit of douchebag, a bit of a diva, but really a true Renaissance bear when it comes to filmmaking. (He even conducts the orchestra when they record the score.) The only thing that's a little weird is that he appears extraordinarily thin, and his whole underside has a taxidermied, rug-like appearance. This is all explained in the great visual punch line at the end of the spot.

"The more you love Canal+, the more you love cinema," says the onscreen line at the end. Likewise, the more you watch the spot, the more you love Canal+. (Note: The agency has also done some nice press materials, including a very funny interview with Mr. Bearman. Check out that Q&A below the spot itself. Creative credits are below that.)

Interview with the bear:

Hello, Paul Bearman, you play the lead role in the latest ad for Canal+ whereas you are in fact a film director. It is unusual to call upon a director to play the part of an actor in an ad. Can you tell us how this all came about?

When BETC contacted me to do this ad for Canal+, I said yes straight away. I should probably mention that I was completely broke and I needed money to finish the post-production of my latest film. They then asked me if their people could be there for the filming and follow all the stages of the production of the project. At first I refused (I have my own way of working you know, and the thought of having a bunch of advertising types on my back during the filming didn't really appeal to me), then we talked about it with my producer. You can't imagine how persuasive a producer can be when they're in need of money. I accepted.

How did the filming go with the agency?

At the beginning, it was quite tense. They brought in a Dutch director (Matthijs Van Heijningen) with all his team. It was no longer clear who was filming what. To his credit, I would say that he is a rather good director (Pepsi, Canal+ "The Closet", etc., and a feature film, "The Thing", which is due to be released in October – Ed), but he had the cheek to try to give me advice about directing! As for the agency… Apart from eating chocolate bars at the control booth and behaving like idiots during filming, you have to wonder what's the point of these people!

But you ended up accepting, in the end?

That's true. But I accepted because it was an ad for Canal+. It's an excellent channel, which does a lot for filmmaking (Canal+ is also co-producer of the next Paul Bearman film – Ed). And then, little by little, we got used working together and everything went smoothly. As long as the agency guy kept well away from my leading actress (laughs).

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