Antoine Bardou-Jacquet: Genius in Motion

The director behind some of the greatest automotive ads of the decade

By David Surace

09.10.2007

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?”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9o9Sr_vw5I

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:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8z-xcAEAn7k

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:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbQYDPiEnjU

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):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GuyaVcqTgic

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:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3j3KjTK3j0w

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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Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at http://www.cedarpointconsulting.com.

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7 Comments

  1. I went to all of the links (at least the ones that didn’t take too long to load, anyway), and I have to say that the guy is talented. I never heard of him before I read this, and I’m in advertising.

  2. What is with all the links? How many people are going to sit in front of their computer and cycle through all of those videos? Of course I want to get a feel for his work, but this is ridiculous! It’s not like I have a T1 line going into my house, you know.

  3. Don’t listen to these middle-aged luddites. I love the links. I went to every link. Good and gooey.

  4. Great post, David! All the videos were awesome – I’d seen the two Honda ones before, but didn’t realize they were by the same creative genius. Wow – impressive stuff!

    To those complaining about the links, how else is one supposed to share videos online? You’d probably bitch even louder if only a still photo from the commercial was posted. Time to upgrade from dialup! 😉

  5. Awesome angle on an interesting topic… great ads. Thanks for the entertainment!

  6. I want all the links, viewed every one, and thanks for putting them in the article. Really cool vids.

  7. Good post, thanks for the links

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