Anyone who remembers the Seventies TV show Candid Camera will no doubt be familiar with the hilarious consequences of replacing someone’s car with a cube of crushed metal – all captured on hidden camera – for everyone to laugh at later.
In entertainment-starved Seventies Britain, practical jokes such as this kept TV audiences up and down the country practically laughing their heads off every Saturday night. And while these days this has been replaced with a veritable feast of B-listers dancing on ice and the like, across the Channel the French seems to have taken the hallowed practical joke to their hearts, where it is enjoying something of a renaissance.
As exemplified by this surprisingly hilarious campaign for Europcar by Ogilvy & Mather, Paris. The proposition? In traffic-congested Paris, most Parisians would be better off hiring a car than driving one. Mais oui! So let’s wait for a driver to park his car, replace it with heap of scrap metal and then watch the inner-Napoleon in the unsuspecting victim be unleashed. To add insult to injury, when the hapless urbanites complain, they are met with incredulous officials (actors) who encourage them to call the authorities (radio station DJs broadcasting their anger for thousands to enjoy).
As if that were not enough, the footage is uploaded onto YouTube for the enjoyment of yet more people. While I defy anyone not to be amused by the enraged Monsieur wandering around the car park screaming “Merde! Merde!” down his mobile like a demented Hugh Jolly, I was somewhat dubious about whether this campaign would ever get people to ditch their cars and go to Europcar instead.
But if the results are to be believed, not only did they get 2.5 million views on YouTube, but 1m Euros worth of free media coverage, three times more traffic on its website and 83 per cent more sign ups!
To view the ad click here
Daren Kay is executive creative director at TMW