In 19th-century England, before social media became our bloodsport of choice, people used to gather ’round to watch something called “bear-baiting,” which involved a dude (or sometimes another animal, like a dog) tormenting a chained-up bear, usually until something (or someone) got wounded or died.
Decidedly archaic, right?
Fair enough. But it turns out sports like that still exist. And in a video called “Do you think this practice belongs to another age?”, BETC Paris draws our attention to just one such activity.
Warning: The ad is graphic.
Created for FLAC (the Federation of Leagues Against Corrida), the video kicks off with a velociraptor (!) getting released into an arena, then taunted and stabbed until it runs out of fighting spirit and collapses to the cheers of a live audience. Once that happens, the torero (or velocirero?) buries the fatal stab into his skull.
Of course, the actual dinosaur is just a comparative foil for the real victim of the sport—bulls in bullfighting, or corrida, as it’s called in Spain and in the south of France, where it’s still practiced. On Facebook, the video’s already generated close to 7 million views.
“Using a velociraptor was a way to reinforce that bullfighting is a practice of an ancient era. That was the message that we wanted to portray in this film, and what is more ancient than a dinosaur to illustrate this barbaric ‘sport’?” BETC Paris creative director Benjamin Lebreton tells AdFreak.
“Furthermore, when talking about bullfighting, many people are still reluctant to watch a bull getting killed. We understand that,” adds Arnaud Assouline, also a creative director. “Many people are not truly aware how awful and disgusting it is because they don’t want to look at it. Using a velociraptor was another way to get past this and expose them to a message that they wouldn’t have seen otherwise.”
The two CDs also explained how the idea came about—”while talking with the people at UNIT Image about something completely unrelated,” Lebreton says. “We were lucky to work with a production team that are trusted partners. When they like an idea, they go the extra mile to bring it to life. It was a collaborative process from start to finish. That is the magic of 3-D/VFX.”
In addition to giving people a sense of how brutal and primitive corrida is, the video seeks to raise petition signatures to cease the practice in the south of France. Some 22,521 signatures have been gathered so far. “Our hope is to get to 100,000 people to build a community for the change we want to make. The film has just been released, and we have high hopes that we will reach our objectives,” says Assouline.
We also wanted to find out whether BETC itself had spoken to bullfighters. During our short stay in Madrid to test Burger King’s food delivery service, we also got to visit La Torre del Oro, a tapas bar that—in addition to sporting mounted bull’s heads on the wall—is filled with photos of bullfighters getting gored, including this 2010 shot of Julito Aparicio, who was gored through his chin in Madrid’s Las Ventas bullring.
Aparicio survived to fight again (he’s now retired), but he’s not the only torero to have suffered at the hands of a bull.
Just last month, 23-year-old matador Daniel García Navarrete was gored in a nearly similar way in his first bullfight. While the fight from the bull’s perspective may not be a fair one, bullfighters also risk injury and could shed light on what they think the risks and rewards are.
“Sorry, but we don’t have any bullfighters among our contacts. We believe that they are an endangered species,” the creative directors joked.
We actually did try looking for toreros to interview for this article. While they’re more numerous than you would imagine, few want to talk on the record about their careers—especially in the context of an anti-corrida campaign, which has raised local sensitivities both in southern France and in Spain, where it’s still seen by some as a cultural fixture.
“Just 48 hours after the film was uploaded, we already got—with no media buying—more than 10 million views on the different videos [French, English, Spanish versions on Facebook and YouTube] and the numbers keep growing. The links have also been shared massively [more than 300,000 shares to this date],” says Lebreton.
“Have a look on social networks and you will see that the issue is being discussed heavily, leading to debates on Facebook and Twitter between people pro and against bullfighting. Even some people who were neutral on the issue are now taking positions.”
“We can safely say that the debate on a ban has been reopened thanks to this campaign and we managed to reach a global audience. So, as far as we and the FLAC are concerned, it is already a massive success,” Assouline adds.
Film: Do you think this practice belongs to another age ?
Advertiser: FLAC Anticorrida
Ad Agency: BETC Paris
Executive Creative Director: Stephane Xiberras
Creative Directors: Benjamin Le Breton, Arnaud Assouline
Director: Jean Michel Drechsler
Production Company: UNIT Image