There’s a family-friendly game on the theme of consumerism that’s played around the world. It’s usually simply called The Logo Game. You probably know it. You remove the brand names from all sorts of logos and players have to guess the names of the brands. Lacoste’s crocodile is one of the easiest you can hope to encounter in the game. The reptile has been embroidered onto Lacoste’s polo shirts ever since founder René Lacoste first sported it on the tennis courts he dominated in 1933.
Which meant it was quite a shock when the brand decided to put some other critters on its crisp white polos last year, replacing the crocodile with 10 endangered species in order to raise awareness and funds to preserve biodiversity. It’s a stunt that they’ve built upon this week, releasing 10 new shirts at 10 Lacoste outlets. And they’re very limited edition, with only one shirt made for each specimen that remains.
But while Lacoste is taking the crocodile off its shirts, the spirit of the beast remains in the brand’s soul. And you don’t have to look much further for it than in its latest campaign film, directed by Megaforce. Demonstrating the tenacity and elegance in the face of the horrors of life, it’s an epic metaphor for just how catastrophic life can be. But somehow, like the couple in the film whose lives appear to be crumbling, we all get through.
LBB’s Alex Reeves spoke to a selection of the BETC creatives behind the campaigns to find out how both tie in with the brand with the memorable logo.
Crocodile Inside – Life is a Beautiful Sport
Answers by creative directors Aurélie Scalabre and Olivier Aumard.
Aurélie and Olivier> After the last campaign that celebrated the timeless elegance of the Lacoste polos with a film showing a love story across the decades, we wanted to get back to something more rooted in the everyday life, in reality. After having stood the test of time, it was time for the Lacoste elegance to stand the test of life.
The Lacoste elegance exceeds a purely stylistic dimension; it is a way of life: being elegant in every situation, even in adversity. This was the challenge that our client wanted to highlight with the new campaign.
LBB> How does it move on from previous campaigns?
Aurélie and Olivier> At first glance, it might seem similar to both The Big Leap and Timeless, in the sense that the film features a couple. This time however, it’s less of a happy, overly romantic love story - instead we witness a destructive fight and a couple on the verge of tearing itself apart. Their home as a symbol of their love literally falls apart and crumbles around them as the heated argument escalates. We wanted the film to have a raw emotional feeling to it and we’re sure more people will recognise themselves in this than the previous films.
LBB> What was the biggest challenge in the whole process, from original brief to the final cut of the film?
Aurélie and Olivier> The first challenge was to continue the Lacoste saga while still renewing it.
Then, once the client had bought into the idea and the script, we threw ourselves into an ambitious production project. On paper, everything made sense but once we actually had to create and imagine the different parts of the building falling into pieces it was a different story.
LBB> It's a really cinematic film! What were your main references for how it should look?
Aurélie and Olivier> We didn’t really have any specific references or films to guide us. Our main concern was that we didn’t want the film to turn into some sort of big showy action movie. We really wanted to stay focused on the couple and their feelings throughout the different phases of their argument. At first, anger. Then the fear of losing everything and finally the decision to come back to each other.
Throughout the production process we were careful to maintain a good balance between the couple and the destruction of the building which is like our third character.
LBB> What was it like working with Megaforce this time? They're a force to be reckoned with (a mega one... sorry).
Aurélie and Olivier> We had never worked with Megaforce before but we had followed what they do for a long time and waited for the perfect project to team up on.
Some of their multi-awarded campaigns, like Nothing Beats a Londoner, are a testament to the sort of freshness and top-class mastering of special effects that we needed for this film. They were 100% committed for months, all the way until the final post production details that were made in London.
LBB> It must have been quite an epic campaign to make - what's your enduring memory of the process?
Aurélie and Olivier> One of the most memorable moments for us was the final scene. After seven days of intense and very demanding filming, Kevin Azais and Oulaya Amamra found the strength to create a superb moment of emotion, it really felt like time stood still when they nailed it.
Save Our Species
Answers by art director Jonathan Baudet-Botella, copywriter Olivier Aumard and associate director Fanny Buisseret.
LBB> What were the biggest moments in the original Save Our Species campaign and why were they so crucial to its success?
Jonathan, Olivier and Fanny> The biggest moments were the ones attesting the engagement from the brand and the support from the public audience.
The fashion show at the Paris Fashion Week: it’s a key moment for Lacoste and they dedicated the last 10 looks to the 10 threatened species. After months of work to develop this partnership and this campaign, it was good to see it take shape and to witness its immediate success.
Another big moment was when Lacoste received a letter from the Mexican government, thanking them for highlighting the Vaquita, a threatened species Mexico is acting to help conserve.
IUCN [the International Union for Conservation of Nature] also noticed public donations were multiplied by four after the campaign which was a strong indicator of the awareness and support the partnership got.
LBB> What was it that made Save Our Species right for the brand of Lacoste?
Jonathan, Olivier and Fanny> The crocodile is one of the most famous logos in the world, the absolute emblem of Lacoste, arousing the desirability and passion among the brand's fans. Moreover, this animal has survived over centuries so it felt right to involve the crocodile in the protection of more threatened species.
In 2018, we decided to do it in the most significant way possible for Lacoste: changing their legacy product, the polo, and replacing the iconic embroidered crocodile with threatened species. In 2019, we’re going one step further and we involve Lacoste retail for the partnership and the awareness to get even closer to the people.
LBB> What have been the results of the original campaign in terms of conservation work that's been funded?
Jonathan, Olivier and Fanny> The first collaboration allowed IUCN to initiate a conservation programme for the Burmese roofed turtle which was one of the most threatened species we had selected with IUCN’s expertise. The project focuses on recruiting juvenile turtles into the wild population both by introducing captive-bred turtles and by protecting and incubating eggs laid by the remaining wild female turtles. Early success has already been achieved, as 46 little hatchlings were born and more are expected in the following weeks. With so few remaining in the wild this is an important milestone for the conservation efforts of the Burmese Roofed Turtle.
LBB> What has it done for the brand and how it's perceived?
Jonathan, Olivier and Fanny> The campaign was received very positively internationally, even in countries where the polos were not sold. It reinforced Lacoste perception as a committed brand, willing to act beyond their usual business.
In 2018, all polos were sold out in 24 hours. In 2019, the campaign got the same amazing support both online and in-store. It demonstrates the positive perception the partnership and its creative expression receives from a very wide audience.
LBB> How did you decide on the way you were going to take the story forward in this execution?
Jonathan, Olivier and Fanny> This year, we decided to go one step further by involving Lacoste retail. On May 22nd, for the International Day for Biological Diversity, the crocodile did not leave the polos only but every square foot of 10 key stores around the world.
During 24 hours, the 10 selected stores became ‘crocodile-free’ in order to each put the spotlight on one specific species. The polos for each species were only available for sale in their dedicated store. All profits from these stores supported IUCN’s Save our Species conservation programme.
LBB> In what ways does your Save our Species campaign tie in with the more traditional advertising like the Crocodile Inside stuff?
Jonathan, Olivier and Fanny> The emblem of the crocodile is at the heart of both campaigns: it embodies the brand value of tenacity, its creativity put at the service of elegance, its absolute freedom. The crocodile inspired René Lacoste more than 30 years ago and remains a source of inspiration to take the brand further.