GLOBAL BRIEF: French clergy damns VW ad - DDB abandoned its poster following the Archbishop’s attack, Richard Cook says

Admen are used to a little gentle name-calling. Even French admen, who people their TV, poster and press ads with scantily dressed lovelies - an abandon their Anglo-Saxon cousins find hard to fathom. But when the name-caller is the Archbishop of Paris, they have to play things differently.

Admen are used to a little gentle name-calling. Even French admen,

who people their TV, poster and press ads with scantily dressed lovelies

- an abandon their Anglo-Saxon cousins find hard to fathom. But when the

name-caller is the Archbishop of Paris, they have to play things

differently.



And so it was with DDB in Paris last week. The agency excited a fury

around France by the hitherto straightforward device of launching an ad

campaign for the Volkswagen Golf. One of the executions in a poster

campaign that was posted at 10,000 sites around the country showed Jesus

at the Last Supper recommending the car to his eager disciples. The

intention was clearly to amuse rather than to shock, as DDB’s agency

director, Benjamin Pardo, was quick to confirm.



Unfortunately, that wasn’t how Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger saw it. He

penned a savage attack on the campaign in an article for Le Monde,

calling it a cynical attempt to sell products by any means possible.

’Today it’s the Christ of Holy Thursday for a new Volkswagen and

tomorrow, who will it be for yoghurts and the new generation of portable

telephones?’ he asked. And then, just to rub salt into the wound, he

suggested the ad was the sort of thing responsible for the tendency of

youths to set cars and buses ablaze around France before concluding with

a rather poor pun which clearly suggested that all admen are

bastards.



The Bishops Conference hit DDB with a Fr3.3 million lawsuit, while

supporters took matters into their own hands and covered up the posters

or tore them down at sites up and down the country.



Given the ferocity of the response, there was only one thing DDB could

do - cave in. Sex sells, but that other prime motivator, religion,

clearly isn’t yet even going to get a chance to do the same. ’We have no

disrespect for the fundamental values of society nor for the beliefs of

the faithful,’ an agency spokesperson said. ’We retracted the posters

immediately to show our respect for the faith and the feelings expressed

by certain believers.



We are also making a donation to Secours Catholic.’



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