The Spot: Flirting With Disaster

Playboy wonders what would happen, or not, between a man and a woman stuck in an elevator

IDEA: Playboy is introducing a line of men's toiletries worldwide—shower gels, body sprays and fragrances—and kicking off the advertising with a stylish and sexy (some might say sexist) 60-second launch spot from DDB in Paris. The rhythmic spot imagines various fantasies that might occur when a young man abruptly stops the elevator in which he's riding with an attractive woman. "The brief was to celebrate Playboy's heritage and attitude in a modern and edgy way," DDB art director Paul Kreitmann and copywriter Alexis Benoit told Adweek in an email. "Their target is young—between 16 and 25—and we are competing with other TV footage as well as insane Internet videos, so we had to be surprising and impactful."

COPYWRITING: "You're flirting with a hot female stranger in an elevator," the voiceover begins. "You want to spice things up, so you press the emergency button. Here's what could happen." (Don't worry, she doesn't panic—this isn't reality.) From there, the script has a hip, hiccupy quality, showing one fantasy after another, starting from the beginning each time. First, she finds the man "bold and sexy." Next, she morphs into twins, then triplets. In one take, she's a "nearsighted contract killer" who thinks he's her target. In another, she sneezes hot dogs. In yet another, the man enters a space-like "parallel dimension populated by 21- to 23-year-old girls who have a fear of commitment."

In the final fantasy, the button opens a door to reveal a bedroom "secretly installed by Hugh Hefner back in 1967." The scenes are "sexy, absurd, crazy and even dangerous," the creatives said. "You could see it as a metaphor of the game of seduction: You never know what's going to happen when you hit on a girl or a guy. It's the uncertainty that makes it so exciting." The product appears, and the voiceover concludes: "There's only one way to know what would really happen. Press to play. New Playboy shower gels for him."

ART DIRECTION/FILMING: The visual aesthetic is modern with some retro touches. The elevator scenes have the flat, muted yellows so common in faux-vintage spots today. The only major departure is the campy space scene, with its shooting stars and moons in ethereal, luminous greens—a place that's "welcoming and weird at the same time," said the creatives. The spot was shot in Toronto, all on set builds. The Perlorian Brothers, known for their absurdist ads, were coy about their role in directing this one. They said, hopefully in jest: "At one point the elevator set burst into a conflagration of flames (thankfully no bunnies were injured in the making)."

EDITING/SOUND: The editing and sound design combine to give the spot its pleasantly circular, fast-paced feel. Each fantasy begins with three sounds in quick succession—the elevator ding, the click of the stop button being pushed, the thud of the elevator's halt. A piano score—a vintage reference to the cha-cha-cha—is replayed with each scene, too, except for the space one, which features angelic singing.

TALENT: The agency chose models who could act in subtle ways that would bring out the spot's humor. "We didn't want it to feel too corny or sexual in a bad way," said the creatives. "For the voice, we wanted the viewer to feel like he could be sitting on Hugh Hefner's lap, listening to one of his very own stories," they added.

MEDIA: The spot is airing on TV all over Europe except in the U.K. and will soon reach Canada and the U.S. It is running globally online.