World’s best ads ever #69: Canal+ inspires a passion for cinema with ‘The Bear’
We asked our readers to vote for their favorite commercials of all time. Top creatives from the World Creative Rankings and The Drum’s Judges’ Club then ranked the ads. Now, we bring you the definitive 100 best TV and video ads of all time.
Don’t underestimate bears, they can run, climb, swing… and talk? And direct? BETC Paris tickled funny bones in 2011 with ‘The Bear’, a famously irreverent spot from top French broadcaster Canal+.
The ad kicks off with a violent medieval war scene before director Paul Bearman (the titular bear) calls a halt and offers some notes. The mockumentary-style ad reveals Bearman’s true colors as a cinema auteur. Of course, it gets weirder – the bear is flat. Spoiler: he’s a taxidermy shag carpet watching a TV screen showing Canal+. The strapline concludes: ‘The more you love Canal+, the more you love cinema’.
The brief was to remind audiences of the premium quality movies on Canal+ and it posits that by simply viewing the channel, viewers will learn the craft. After all, if a bear rug can direct, anyone can.
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BETC’s art director Eric Astourge told Fast Company: “Canal+ is now taken very seriously as a brand that shares its passion for cinema with its customers. Above all, French people seemed to like it a lot, as it has the best scores ever recorded in terms of originality for a Canal+ advertisement.”
Director Matthijs Van Heijningen, known for Edeka Christmas 2117 (a Dutch supermarket also on this list), demonstrates his SFX skills, which you’ll notice in PS4’s ‘Perfect Day’, Samsung’s ‘Ostrich’ and ‘Monster’s Saved’ by Monster.
The team initially flirted with the idea of puppeting the bear but realized that this would have presented difficulties in hitting the comic beats. Instead, a real actor donned a bear suit for those on set to bounce off. This provided a reference for the subsequent SFX shots.
The popular ad won a Grand Prix Lion at Cannes Lions in 2012 and later spawned an interactive experience called ‘Being the Bear’ that let users role-play as Mr Bearman.