This Ad’s Love Story Between a Mermaid and a Sailor Ends With Quite a Lovely Twist

A twisted take on The Little Mermaid

Headshot of Angela Natividad

Remember those sailor stories about mermaids who drag drowning men to their doom? In this creepy—yet charming!—little piece of work, the National Maritime Rescue Organization tells just that tale … from the perspective of the mermaid. 

Set to the plaintive croon of Tobias Jesso's "Without You," a mermaid sulking on the balcony of a sunken ship sees a sailor drifting down toward her. This kicks off a model courtship. 

The graphics depict a magical world illuminated by jellyfish. Love blooms around the shipwreck, a foreshadowing of darkness to come. You're bound to ask yourself a few questions: How does the sailor breathe underwater? Can you really barbeque steaks below sea level? How does that mermaid get pregnant? 

One of these—well, technically all of them—will be answered in the inevitable twist. 

This is an impossible love, blocked by the stubborn buoyancy of a life jacket. The sailor can't breathe underwater, the mermaid is murderously delusional (with creepy fangs to boot!), and we never find out how she gets pregnant—a mystery which, like the barbeque question, is moot, given that she imagined it all anyway. 

Created by French agency Publicis Conseil and Wizz with about 25 graphic designers and 3-D animators, "The Mermaid" is really a creative spin on the importance of wearing life jackets at sea. 

Every year, the National Maritime Rescue Organization (SNSM) launches over 5,200 interventions off the French coast, rescuing nearly 8,000 people. But while the sea is a dangerous place filled with surprises you can't account for (like biologically misguided happily-ever-afters), saving your life is often a matter of remembering the little things—like life jackets. SNSM also hopes to raise donations, which are pretty much its sole source of funding. 

The campaign goes live in mid-November on TV, in theaters, via digital and on digital outdoor. Check out the making-of below, which goes into delightfully geeky 3-D detail.


Advertiser : SNSM – French National Maritime Rescue Organization

Régis Benazech

Caroline Serre

Publicis Conseil :

Executive Creative Directors : Fabrice Delacourt, Olivier Desmettre

Copywriter : Vincent Cusenier

Art Director : Lucie Vallotton

AD Assistant : Alexandre Perdereau

Account Managers : Valérie Hénaff, Laurent Fauroux, Valérie Albou, Christine Pumain, Lou Leproux

Film Production

TV Production (Prodigious) Pierre Marcus / Sophie Bouyer

Production Company : Wizz / François Brun

Producer : Matthieu Poirier

Directors : Flying V

Design : William Laborie / Flying V

Concept Art : Yann Boyer

3D : Fix studio

Post Producer : Christelle Prud'homme

Editing Assistant : Cecil Cahen

Coordinatrice de production : Natelene Darfeuille

Supervisor 3D : Matthieu Negrel

3D : Arnaud Joli, Bruno Le guern, Nicolas Trotignon, Alexia Schmidt, Jerome Caperan, Olivier

Osotimehin, Matthieu Bernadat, Audric Escales, Daniel Ly, Bruno Le Guern, Mathieu Negrel, Franck

Clement-Larosiere, Justine Dubreux, Benoit Grynberg, Ludovic Hoarau, Cédric Delaforest Divonne,

Jean Dalaunay

Compositing : Christophe Andrei, Benjamin Laborde, Ingmar Renouardiere

Business Affairs (Prodigious) Carlos Serrano / Alice Rolin

Sound Production : Prodigious / Boris Nicou

Sound design : James

Mix : Jean-Jacques Hubert

Musical Composition : Tobias Jesso "Without You"

Length of the film : 92''

Media Plan : TV / Cinema / Digital

@luckthelady Angela Natividad is a frequent contributor to Adweek's creativity blog, AdFreak. She is also the author of Generation Creation and co-founder of Hurrah, an esports agency. She lives in Paris and when she isn't writing, she can be found picking food off your plate.