Get ready for Liberté, Égalité et le Football as Marcel Desailly leads the charge
The UEFA European Championships are less than a month away and sponsor Carlsberg has kicked off with a rousing campaign from agency 72andSunny Amsterdam and director Oskar Bård. Taking its inspiration from this year’s host, France and the ongoing frustrations felt by ordinary football fans, the creative is infused with the spirit of revolution. Indeed, Carlsberg are determined to transform Euro 2016 into a ‘tournament of the people’ by giving away more tickets than ever to fans.
In the TVC, fans are transported to a world that’s a mashup of Eugène Delacroix, Victor Hugo and nerdy soccer details – with French footballing legend Marcel Desailly leading the revolution. Elsewhere, the outdoor and experiential executions borrow heavily from the famous Delacroix painting ‘Liberty Leading the People’.
LBB’s Laura Swinton caught up with 72andSunny Amsterdam ECD Carlo Cavallone and CD Matt Heck to find out more.
LBB> Why was the spirit of revolution so key to the campaign strategy?
Carlsberg is all about doing things better for the fans, so giving them the power in La Revolution seemed like a fantastic opportunity to create excitement for fans around the Euros.
And what better way to ignite the spirit of La Revolution than to give away free Euros tickets? That’s something Carlsberg has been doing for over 20 years.
We also wanted to make sure the spirit of La Revolution was distinctly Carlsberg, which involved injecting a little of the unpretentious Danish humour into everything we did, from the campaign strategy to the casting of our hero, Marcel Desailly.
LBB> Was there any particular insight from the planning team that got you there? Does it tap into a particular mood in 2016?
Insights about the current state of football, including soaring ticket prices, VIPs hogging the best experiences and – say it quietly – FIFA, led us to the conclusion that the game was due a good revolution.
When we combined this thinking with the Euro 2016 host nation, “La Revolution” was born, and eventually won by the fans.
LBB> This summer has been dubbed ‘the summer of sport’ with the Euros and the Olympics. When there’s so much sport around, how can sponsor brands cut through? Is there any added challenge?
There is always a lot of competition for fans' attention during big tournaments, with the Olympics and the Euros being two of the biggest.
With La Revolution, we wanted to create something that was conceptually and visually unique, so that when it came on screen between games, it stood out above the usual collection of painted faces and caught viewer's attention.
LBB> At what point did you decide to embrace the Delacroix/Victor Hugo vibe? And in terms of art direction, where did you draw your influences for the look/production/costume design? What sort of research was involved?
We fell in love with the aesthetic of Delacroix and period costumes when developing the campaign strategy, which is one of the reasons we found the territory of France so appealing – it felt right to just give it the Carlsberg twist.
We felt that talking about football with a different artistic and cultural reference point would give us the stand out we needed.
The creative team carried out a lot of their own research, through fashion blogs and pop culture. References from Coldplay's Viva La Vida album to Gangs of New York and even Vivienne Westwood’s collections were used as a great starting point – a modern take on classic period costume. We then worked together with fashion designers Nail & Rockett, plus a group of talented local costume designers to finalise the look and feel of La Revolution's wardrobe.
From this base, we developed a unique look that communicated Carlsberg, France and the Euros in a stylish way.
LBB> The details in the spot are brilliant – the octopus, the group of death – you must have had a lot of fun coming up with them. Why was it important to build up such a rich world?
The Euros attracts a range of football fans who will be watching the spot, from the flirts to true enthusiasts.
We wanted to give the film a level of texture and depth that would reward repeat watching for the broad spectrum of fans. From a well-known octopus predicting winners, to a more subtle tribute like the dejected Dutch staying in flat #14, to the pop culture Dab goal celebration, and a famous French Euro and World Cup Winner.
If you look closely there are a number of nods and winks that will test the knowledge of even the most seasoned fans.
LBB> The spot is very French but also inclusive of the other nationalities involved – how did you go about re-interpreting these other nationalities for this Les Mis world?
We wanted to give nations a true 'La Revolution' feel with their costume design and casting.
We used national colours and cultural icons (for instance, the Irish clover) to build a unique set of revolutionary costumes.
We also chose a selection of talent that we felt represented our nations whilst giving added texture to the film.
LBB> How did Marcel Desailly get involved and why was he the perfect person to encapsulate the spirit of revolution?
Well, we knew that the hero of our revolution needed to be a famous Frenchman who encapsulated Carlsberg's sense of humour. We also wanted someone who fans loved, and would rally behind during La Revolution.
So when we heard Marcel was interested, we jumped at the chance of having a former Euro and World Cup winner with a great personality lead the fan revolution.
As soon as Marcel came on set, he was really fun and added a great energy to the production.
LBB> Why was Oskar the best person to direct the spot? What was it about his initial treatment that captured your imagination?
Oskar has that rare talent of combining cinematic with funny. Carlsberg’s recent commercials have become more and more visually stylish whilst still retaining their well established sense of humour. With Oskar we saw the chance to push this further than ever.
On the first call Oskar also talked with great passion about his extensive collection of 18th century French swords, sabres and uniforms he has been collecting since he was 14 years old. This obscure passion for the subject helped us confirm our decision to partner with him.
LBB> I believe the spot was shot in Uruguay – what was that like? Why was that the best place to capture ‘old France’?
It was shot in Montevideo, which was a great decision. With stereotypically French architecture, diverse casting and a more favourable climate than Paris in March, it worked out well.
We also had the opportunity to work with some very talented production partners on the ground, that brought the look and feel of La Revolution to life.
LBB> And what were your memories of the production/shoot? Any adventures?
You don’t make a revolution without a few interesting turns along the way!
Memories include a month’s worth of rain on our first day of shooting in supposedly sunny South America and no less than three uncooperative French bulldogs. But most of all, a huge team of fellow revolutionaries helping us fight the good fight.
And chivitos. Many delicious chivitos.
LBB> Aside from the spot, there’s also the living Delacroix painting, which I believe will form the cornerstone of the OOH. What can we expect from that?
Dominique Gaucher and his team hand-painted a four-meter wide oil painting that is being used for OOH and posters featuring many characters from the film. The original painting will ideally also be exhibited in Carlsberg’s Glyptotek museum in Copenhagen.
As for the living painting, just as with many of the ‘If Carlsberg Did’ stunts, we wouldn't want to spoil the surprise completely. But we can tell you that some lucky football fans will be extremely happy to see the masterpiece come to life during the Euros.
LBB> I love the unexpected combination of football, history, art and literature – is it time brands started respecting football fans’ intelligence?
We have always thought that Carlsberg drinkers are up for things done better: from beer to football and even advertising.
If we are going to engage an audience that is interested in doing things better, then we need to acknowledge that these interests don't stop at football and beer, but also lie in literature, the arts and beyond.
Furthermore, what it means to be a football fan is very different than it once was, and communicating with these fans has become more nuanced, especially with the amount of intelligent conversations and debate that take place regularly between fans on blogs, twitter and at the pub.
It’s up to brands to acknowledge this level of intelligence if they want to connect with modern football fans and culture in a meaningful way.