Behind the Work in association withThe Immortal Awards

Your Shot: BETC on the Story of Noah and the Unicorn Balls

Advertising Agency
Paris, France
Stéphane Xiberras, CCO and President BETC Paris on creating ‘WTF’ moments for CANAL+, testicular chic and biblical ambition

Evolution be damned. According to the latest spot for French broadcaster CANAL+, the reason some of the coolest creatures of myth and legend are nowhere to be found is the small matter of some Old Testament incompetence. The campaign, takes us 15 minutes before the Great Flood, where Noah’s employees are busy corralling one pair of every animal – only someone forgot the unicorns. LBB’s Laura Swinton caught up with BETC Paris CCO Stéphane Xiberras to find out about a spot that features the biggest, proudest pairs of balls ever to grace the world of advertising.

LBB> Unicorns and the Bible - interesting combination... what sort of discussions led to that idea?

SX> I honestly think that Noah screwed up and forgot a few species. I believe the unicorns were victims of this terrible lack of professionalism and that it’s about time we pay this majestic animal tribute.

LBB> Canal+ is no stranger to funny, whimsical campaigns. How does Unicorns evolve things for the brand?

SX> The communication we do for CANAL+ should be like a taste or a sample of what the broadcaster has to offer. As the positioning of CANAL+ is based on creativity, impertinence and surprise we try to make ads that meet these values. 

It’s a sort of continuation of the 'WTF', if you want…

LBB> The spot is certainly anatomically correct (I mean, I've never seen unicorn balls before so I have no frame of reference but they looked like I imagine they would). How did the clients at Canal+ feel about that? Did they take much convincing?

SX> You cannot imagine the pre-production meetings. Everyone had an opinion on the unicorn balls (hairy, golden, with stars…). I opted for sobriety. Balls, for sure. But chic. We’re French for fuck’s sake. 

LBB> In terms of the art direction, did you have any particular references in mind?

SX> The aim was to move away from existing references, like Russel Crowe’s Noah or childish, fairy tale like references. 

LBB> It's no mean feat but the production is brilliant - were you at all worried about recreating the scale and drama of a biblical epic?

SX> With Matthijs on board I wasn’t too worried about the quality of the final result, he’s one of the greatest directors of his generation. Also, with my friends at Mikros working on the post production, the creative team (Patrice Dumas and Aurélie Scalabre) and myself were rather confident.

LBB> Matthis Van Heijningen is the director on this - why was he the right guy for the job and what did he bring to it?

SX> Matthijs is capable of creating epic images but at the same time he has a fantastic comic timing. Not many directors have that talent. On top of that he’s a great storyteller, even in this type of very short format. 

His capacity of making an utterly ridiculous story seem credible makes him an obvious choice. 

LBB> Where did you shoot it and how long did that take?

SX> We shot in Romania over 4 days last summer. 

LBB> Mikros did the post - I imagine that was quite a big job for them. What were the main challenges they faced?

SX> They are great. After the work with the Bear, they were now confronted with the CGI animals in the ark. Even if you can’t see the work at first sight, once looking at the inside of the ark image by image it’s full of details in every way. Incredible job. You know the CGI is truly great when you can’t see it….