Long ago, back in 1954, 130 people assembled in Venice for the first International Advertising Film Festival. The spectacle of adland descending en masse on the French Riviera wasn't even a twinkle in their eye – with just 187 entries from 14 countries.
The first winner was "Il Circo", a three-minute animated film for Chlorodont – a German toothpaste brand. Using stop-motion animation, the toothpaste is brought to life as a series of circus attractions – a ringmaster, an elephant, and a snake charmer (charming a "snake" of toothpaste") before taming a lion representing tooth decay.
Produced by Ferry Mayer and directed by Paul Bianchi, it's a remarkable piece of animation; with fluid motion and vivid images that bring the product to life. Though Cholorodont won the distinction of being the first Lions winner, the brand is no more – production ended in the 1980s.
Bianchi continued to lent his distinctive stop-motion style to advertising, however. This effort for Barilla pasta features a choreographed dance of forks that's very reminiscent of the Lions-winning Chlorodont ad:
Another ad for the same client combines line drawing with animated eggs to create a spectacle that resembles film musicals of the 1930s:
In this charming film for Palmolive, Bianchi depicts a train carrying the soap to all corners of the country – in one sequence, he uses a technique seen in Il Circo to depict the soap bars "walking".
Most intriguing of all though, is this film from much earlier – 1935, to be exact. The British Film Institute catalogue records that a "Paul Bianchi" created a stop motion animation for Craven A cigarettes set in a "circus type arena" – which can surely only be this ad:
It certainly bears many of the hallmarks of Bianchi's style – from the Busby Berkeley-style choreography to the circus setting – and those walking animation techniques. If it is the work of the same director, it just goes to show that some ideas are worth reusing...