10 French TV Commercials Superior To Our Own (CLIPS)


There’s a new exhibit in Paris called “40 Years of Ads on TV” and in an article in today’s Times —  Michael Kimmelman used the opportunity to extol the superiority of French TV commercials over our own.

He writes:

“French commercials speak to French culture no less than French literature or music does. Long on sensuality, style and poetry, they are notably lean on facts and nearly allergic to the rough-and-tumble of commerce. Hard-sell tactics, standard in America, just don’t wash in France. American commercials go from the head to the wallet, British ones from the head to the heart, French, from the heart to the head.”

How very groan-worthy.

Still, we like blue cheese and Amelie as much as the next guy. Curious, we decided to check into some of the commercials the Times piece raved so much about.

Here are 10 of them. Beware — as any French person will happily blather on about — the French do not share our protestant sensibilities. Some of these clips are decidedly not safe for work.

Here’s a Lee Cooper Jeans ad from France’s “Golden Age” of commercials. It’s by Jean-Paul Goude:

William Klein made ads for Dim lingerie famous. Here’s a clip showing how they’ve changed over the years.

Public service announcements are very different in France. Here’s one by Wilfred Brimo encouraging gays to use condoms. It features gays, using condoms. Shocking! It’s NSFW in the US, though its shown on TV in France.

This is an Orangina ad. It features a famous actor wielding a chain saw. It’s very popular in France. But then, so was Jerry Lewis.

This Boursin ad is one of the first French commericals to use a slogan, “Du pain, du vin, du Boursin.”

The new wave of French ads, like this one from Peugot, feature slick story-telling…and a little bit of a racist tinge?

A truly beautiful ad for Orange from director Antoine Bardou-Jacquet. In France, it’s OK to cry about your mobile services provider.

We like what a YouTube commenter had to say about this one, featuring Inna Zobova, “Poor fishies. 😛 Beautiful though.”

In this commercial for Phillips, an anatomically correct woman robot shaves a naked male model in the shower. From the head to the where again?

No one in filmmaker Michel Gondry’s Air France commercials are “dreaming about low fares and on-time departures,” writes the Kimmelman. Touché.