Canal+ Sends In The Clowns

BETC Paris, who made Cannes-winning spot “The Bear,” returns with an amiably silly follow-up for Canal+, starring a bunch of clowns.

BETC Paris has sent in the clowns for the latest execution in its award-winning campaign for French premium pay-TV channel Canal+. In the TV ad, launched September 12, five circus dwarves stalk a man going about his everyday business until the true purpose of their pursuit is revealed.


“The idea was to make an intriguing film that creates suspense,” the agency’s chief creative officer and president Stéphane Xiberras explains.

“The idea was to make an intriguing film that creates suspense”

The ad promotes a new drama series-focused subscription channel to be launched by Canal+ on September 21 dedicated to major new series and existing content, such as Braquo, Spiral, and The Returned. So the commercial needed to build audience interest and anticipation–just like a great TV series.

Shot in Vancouver during the summer, “The Clowns” was directed by Steve Rogers–whose recent credits include work for James Boag’s, Nike, and Dodge and is currently developing his first movie–through Wanda. Copywriter was Jean-Christophe Royer and art director was Eric Astorgue.

“Whenever we make a film for Canal+, a channel that broadcasts a lot of high-quality content that mostly originates in the U.S., we are under a lot of pressure in terms of the craft: the ads have to reflect the quality of the channel,” Xibberas explains.

“We wanted an Anglo Saxon look and a ‘polished,’ cinematic picture which is the reason we decided to work with director Steve Rogers.”

He adds: The film needed to be intriguing and visually surprising. It didn’t necessarily have to be dwarf clowns, but we wanted to add a strange element to the script to get the audience hooked.


BETC Paris’s 2011 ad for Canal+ “The Bear“–in which a bearskin rug explains what it takes to become a great Hollywood director–won numerous awards including four D&AD pencils, three Gold Clios, Gold and Silver at the One Show, and the Grand Prix for Production Value, and three Gold Lions and a Silver at the 2012 Cannes International Advertising Festival.

Meanwhile, earlier this year the agency rolled out “Baby&Me,” the follow up to its viral smash hit “Rollerbabies” for another of its clients, Evian.

Oh, and in case your wondering: the reason the clowns in the new Canal+ ad pursue the man is because six months earlier, mid-way through relating to them the plot of a wonderful TV series he’d just been watching, he was called away before he could tell them what happened in the end.

About the author

Meg Carter is a UK-based freelance journalist who has written widely on all aspects of branding, media, marketing & creativity for a wide range of outlets including The Independent, Financial Times and Guardian newspapers, New Media Age and Wired.