Peugeot and BETC's 30-year affair with the absurd

Car marque has split with BETC and Havas after awarding global creative account to Omnicom.

Peugeot: 2017 ad features sloppy yet lovable dog
Peugeot: 2017 ad features sloppy yet lovable dog

A thrill-seeking monkey and a slobbery dog mark the tip of the iceberg for BETC and Havas' work for Peugeot over the past 30 years. 

Campaign reported yesterday (Wednesday) that Peugeot has moved its global ad account to Omnicom, parting with BETC and Havas after almost 30 years. 

Here's a look back at some of the weird and wonderful ads that the agencies have made for the car marque. 

‘The drive of your life’ (1996)

Peugeot took over an entire ad break during ITV’s News at Ten for a three-minute film promoting the 406 model.

Created by Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper (the former name of Havas’ UK agency) and set to M People’s Search for the Hero, the ad is a razzmatazz of surreal and controversial images, from a wildlife photographer interacting with an elephant to a child narrowly avoiding death at the hands of a juggernaut.

The spot saw the brand replace its former tagline: "The lion goes from strength to strength."

‘Toys’ (2004)

2004's "Toys" brought child’s play to life with wind-up cars taking over a bustling city.

A wooden four-wheeler passes by unnoticed as a mechanic fits a battery into a bright pink convertible. Another promptly picks up yellow blocks from the ground after a car crash leaves his Lego-based model immobile.

However, a Peugeot car stands out from the lot as it parks on to a driveway, causing a neighbour to second-guess his new plastic automobile. The work was written by Remi Noel, art directed by Eric Holden and directed by Philippe André through Wanda.

‘The bridge’ (2004)

Set in a dystopian land in which all cars look the same, a Peugeot 607 clears roads as it makes its way through the city. Drivers hide in sideroads and car parks, their cars (literally) shaking as the model peruses the area.

It was written by Olivier Couradjut, art directed by Rémy Tricot and directed by Frederic Planchon through Irene.

'Push the limits’ (2015)

A man and his monkey take on the mob in BETC Paris’ spot for the 308 GTi model. 

Crystal the monkey – who features in films such as The Hangover and A Night at the Museum – seems to be having the time of its life as it slaps a Yakuza mob leader in the face before sauntering to their car and driving into the sunset unscathed. All in a day’s work for Crystal.

It was written by Jean-Christophe Royer, art directed by Eric Astorgue and directed by Noam Murro through Wanda.

‘The dog’ (2017)

A family adjusts to life with a new dog who has been plagued with comically large jowls.

The poor beagle leaves chaos in its tracks thanks to its face flaps, leaving onlookers awestruck and fellow pets barking in terror (or bemusement – it’s quite hard to tell with dogs, really).

The spot ends as the slobbery pooch hops into a 208 GTi, closing with an ungodly flapping noise as the car begins to drive away.

It was written by Antoine Lenoble, art directed by Ludovic Labayrade and directed by Akama through Wizz.

‘The score’ (2018)

Shot in a former military base in Croatia, "The score" features a bespoke piece from Oscar-winning composer and pianist Riopy – who worked on soundtracks for films such as The Danish Girl and The Shape of Water – played by a pair of 508 vehicles.

In what is literally the longest musical score in the world, the ad shows Riopy’s composition spread over two kilometres, with more than 190 musical notes played by the cars.

It was written by Ibrahim Seck, art directed by Antoine Montes and directed by John S Park through Quad. 

‘Car of the future’ (2019) 

With reference to faux-vintage footage of children, "Car of the future" explores the ways in which Peugeot’s 208 model encapsulates the futuristic predictions of decades past.

While one child predicts future cars will have "headlights that look like lion teeth" (which the 208 does have), another seemingly predicts the existence of 3D, nodding to the camera in a "you’ll see" moment similar to Michael J Fox’s appropriation of Johnny B Goode in Back to the Future.

The work was written by Olivier Mille, art directed by Thomas Defert and directed by Jan Wentz through Quad. 

‘Recycle the noise, silence the city’ (2019)

As cities become louder, BETC Paris used "acoustic piezoelectric sensors" to turn soundwaves into electricity that could then be used to charge Peugeot’s electric 208 model. 

"If 100% of cars were electric, the perceived noise pollution would drop by 30%," the ad declares as it comes to a close.

It was written by Jules Rhetty, art directed by Eva Sgarro and directed by Nicolas Bozino through L’Ensemble.

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