Ads for France’s Canal+ Struggle to Compare It to Netflix Without Saying ‘Netflix’

BETC gets cleverly meta for the 'content platform'

Canal+ gets increasingly direct with its references to Netflix. BETC
Headshot of David Griner

Self-censorship is a tried-and-true gag for comedic ads. From the 2012 launch spot for Dollar Shave Club’s “f**king great” razors to last week’s “brutal honesty” campaign with Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell for meat alternative Lightife, a timely bleep is an easy way to make a spot feel mildly edgy.

But agency BETC takes the gag in some enjoyably meta directions with its new campaign to promote the evolution of French network Canal+ into a streaming platform. In a three-ad arc, we see the side effects of Vivendi-owned Canal+ attempting to liken itself to Netflix, as the cultural shorthand for a streaming service, without saying the trademarked word “Netflix.”

First we see a Canal+ commercial crew attempting to make a cinematic spot (the kind for which the network has long been known) while debating behind the scenes about whether anyone will understand what a “content platform” is.

In the second ad, a family at the dinner table debates the first ad and why it bothered to bleep Netflix. Per usual, the olds are baffled, but their savvy daughter is on hand to explain the concept, punctuated with barely constrained eyerolls.

Finally, the three-ad arc reaches its conclusion with a trademark-reference armistice of sorts. Finally, the actors can say whatever they want. Well, almost.

The first two spots in the series have been airing in France since last month, with the third ad beginning to run Tuesday.

In case you’re not up on your French stars, the actor in the first and third ads is Kad Merad, currently starring in Republican Gangsters on Canal+, thus the quick gag in the first ad about him not recognizing the show.

This isn’t the first time BETC has had fun with quasi-oblique references to Netflix. In July, the agency made a spot for Bouygues Telecom that packed in 20 impressively subtle references to Netflix shows, then created a website where viewers could try to spot them all (Team Adweek only spotted 15).


Brand: Canal+
Brand Management: Emilie Pietrini, Céline Pontygayot, Juliette Ovarlez, Eugénie Rodrigues
Agency: BETC
Agency Management: Bertille Toledano, Guillaume Espinet, Marie Lequime, Mathilde Lancon, Ténée Diouf
Executive Creative Director: Stéphane Xiberras
Creative Director: Eric Astorgue
Copywriter: Martin Rocaboy
Assistant Art Director: Anouk Bossois
Strategic Planning: Antoine Pivard
Traffic: Elodie Diana
Tv Producers: David Brakha, Isabelle Menard
Production House: Henry
Producer: Hugo Diaz
Sound Production: Kouz
Director: Martin Werner
Head Of Media: Havas

@griner David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."