The Drum Awards Festival - Official Deadline

-d -h -min -sec


By Amy Houston, Senior Reporter

May 17, 2023 | 6 min read

The meta-style spot is to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the timepiece.

Last month, luxury watch brand Tag Heuer released an epic five-minute film featuring Hollywood royalty, and soon-to-be Ken doll, Ryan Gosling. It was a far cry from the polished commercials the high-end company tends to run and that’s exactly how George Ciz, the watchmaker’s chief marketing officer, wanted it.

It all began when Gosling joined as a brand ambassador a couple of years ago and then the anniversary of the Carrera came around, Ciz knew the timing was perfect to release something. “We wanted to do something around racing, to us Ryan is the quintessential Hollywood driver,” says the marketer, noting that most people recall the moment in the movie Drive when Gosling puts a watch on the steering wheel of a car. “If you are a watch brand that is passionate about motorsports you can’t find a more perfect guy.”

It would have been relatively easy for Tag Heuer to go down the historical route, but its chief executive Frédéric Arnault put his foot down. “It’s difficult to make them exciting and fun,” confessed Ciz. “Arnault’s brief was to make a culturally relevant film, let Ryan be Ryan. Do something cool but don’t feel like you have to stay within the realm of the heritage.”

This is when exciting conversations started happening with Alexander Kalchev, chief creative officer at DDB Paris. “The Carrera is named after one of the most iconic and dangerous races in the world,” he adds. “The brief was great, don’t do anything too stuffy, stay as avant-garde as the brand is. Very quickly we landed on the idea of getting Ryan to play Ryan.”

In the spot, the Barbie actor is completely obsessed with the vintage timepiece, so much so that he refuses to give it back after shooting a commercial for it. It’s all very meta, an ad within an ad within an ad-type vibe.

At the heart of the project, there’s always the watch, not some abstract brand values, says Kalchev. “The beauty of working with someone like Ryan Gosling, beyond the fact that he’s an exceptional actor, is that at the drop of a hat he can improvise and brings his blend of storytelling to the film,” the creative explains.

“A lot of the humor, the idea of having Vanessa Bayer, they come from him. Which is wonderful proof of how involved he is with the brand and story.”

It was an intense three-day shoot in Sydney, during the time that the actor was also shooting the Fall Guy. The Tag Heuer team had Gosling scheduled for one day, but he was having so much fun that he ended up giving them so much more. Kalchev adds that he’s never heard so many people laugh behind a monitor, every single take.

Suggested newsletters for you

Daily Briefing


Catch up on the most important stories of the day, curated by our editorial team.

Ads of the Week


See the best ads of the last week - all in one place.

The Drum Insider

Once a month

Learn how to pitch to our editors and get published on The Drum.

Ciz notes that it was a collaborative effort. There was one line in the ad that Ryan came up with on the spot, that took the team by surprise in the best way: “Come on, give me one spin around the old dial!” Ciz and his team were elated, it was a brilliant off-the-cuff moment. “It was so specific and genius from a watchmaker’s perspective. It’s great lingo. He gave us more than double his time. He gave us 13 hours on a Sunday and his input was across everything.”

It’s quite a unique, almost refreshing, tone of voice for a luxury watch brand. “There are lots of brands that feel unapproachable, we want the opposite,” the marketer continues. “One of the best ways to do that is to show that you don’t take yourself too seriously.

“Humor is a great way to go about it, it’s a unifying factor. It brings people together.”

To find out what it was like working with famed director Nash Edgerton and the huge role production played, listen to the week’s episode of the Anatomy of an Ad podcast.

Tag Heuer Creative Creative Works

More from Tag Heuer

View all