A Certain Regard

19 Feb 2009

from another Gondry directed spot.

Yesterday the Times ran an interesting piece about French advertising, noting the cultural (if not legal) norms there prevent such things as the hard sell.

To us money implies corruption, and moreover, because we consider ourselves the inventors of freedom, never mind if that’s not true, we still consider advertising as a kind of manipulation,” Mr. Séguéla said. “This explains why television commercials started so late here — essentially because leftist opposition saw ads as corrupting the soul.”

As a result, the ads there tend to be more oblique, elliptical. All of this begs the question of whether the effectiveness of television advertising can be controlled for cultural norms. But for the aesthetes among us, the question is simple: what do they look like? Though the Times failed to link to relevant spots in a current museum exhibit there, the sleuths at the Alley Insider did. Here’s one:

Many moons ago, preparing for a year in Europe, I can remember being warned (or was it teased?) that the commercials there would be much more artistic. I was, in the next few days floored by a Levis ad that, over the years, I would remember mainly in fragments. I have attempted to describe its dreamlike qualities many times, but failed to touch in conversation what the commercial had evoked in my impressionable teen psyche. Mainly, that the coolest place to store a condom was highly concomitant with a pair of Levis (now my only brand of jeans). The commercial, I would learn years later, was directed by frenchman Michel Gondry. Allez les Bleus!

The still above is from another Gondry-directed spot featured here.


  1. 6 Mar 2009 Craig

    Love Gondry’s work! Can you imagine that level of expression here in the states. Makes one drool.

  2. 6 Mar 2009 Naheem Adio

    I’m a Gondry fan as well!

    And i didn’t know that pocket was originally for watches. (and Levis are my only jeans as well … 514s are the best)

  3. 9 Mar 2009 raafi

    514s do it right.

  4. 13 Mar 2009 Jason Pollard

    OK That was the illest commercial I’ve ever seen. I gotta know what the budget on that was.

  5. 13 Mar 2009 Jason Pollard

    Did you see the other version with the different ending? Man my mind is just blown damn french.

  6. 30 Mar 2009 laura

    this frenchman knows the exoticism of true americana…