Antoine Bardou-Jacquet: Genius in Motion
The director behind some of the greatest automotive ads of the decade
By David Surace
You know the story: the tiny cog begins its slow roll toward stage left with an eerily assured motion, almost like the little piece of machined metal knows its manifest destiny. One minute fifty-three seconds (and 84 car parts) later, a UK-market Honda Accord Estate rolls over a trip-wire and unfurls the black banner bearing its name, to the crash-boom of the SugarHill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” and the Minnesota lilt of Garrison Keillor’s voiceover: “Isn’t it nice when things just work?”
It is very nice, indeed. It isn’t even certain that Wieden + Kennedy London and its production company, Partizan Midi Minuit, are done bagging awards for the piece, named “Cog,” since it first aired in 2003. What you might not know is that the man who directed that spot, Paris-based graphic designer Antoine Bardou-Jacquet, has done much more work with the automotive industry since.
Many of his commercials feature an intense CGI or video-game theme, one of the best being a spot for Peugeot illustrating the adultness of its shark-nosed 407 range:
Another creative spot for Peugeot features the diminutive city car, the 1007, whose standout feature is its unique sliding-door configuration. This commercial’s intent was to illustrate the car’s ease-of-use factor, although it might make you want your own pet cartoon monster spider as well:
In 2006 Honda UK debuted its new 3-door Civic hatch with one of Bardou-Jacquet’s finest works and perhaps the one which lugged home the most awards; it describes the everyday ownership experience using an a capella choir. The music (yes, it’s real music) was composed by creative/choir director Jenny O’Grady, and conducted by Steve Sidwell (the bald guy):
I’m saving the best for last. This two-minute, $3.9 million commercial celebrates 60 years of Shell’s off-and-on relationship with Ferrari by (carefully) flinging several priceless race machines through the closed-off streets of London, Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo, New York, and Sydney:
What’s astonishing isn’t the level of technical achievement or even the new light shed on these (sometimes) ordinary cars. These certainly aren’t the only good automotive ads, though it’s somewhat conspicuous that the commercials we’re accustomed to in the States are not often so creative or brazen. But that still doesn’t detract from the most amazing thing of all: that Antoine Bardou-Jacquet continues to raise his own bar.
For more of his work outside of the automotive arena, see http://www.partizan.com/partizan/commercials/?antoine_bardou_jacquet and http://www.partizan.com/partizan/musicvideos/?antoine_bardou_jacquet
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