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Orange France ad takes a powerful shot at tackling long-held issues in football
Why the campaign - created by Publicis Groupe's Marcel - has well and truly hit the back of the net
20 July 2023
I first stumbled across this ad on Twitter, with the tweet captioned: ‘Is this the greatest football ad ever?’
A football fan myself, I was intrigued to find out more and soon found myself watching a montage of some of the men’s French national team’s goals. The likes of Mbappe, Greizmann and Coman were skilfully taking on players, crossing balls in and scoring prolific goals. I was impressed. The clips only solidified my belief that the French team is one of the best outfits in world football today - (yes it hurts my English heart to say that).
Once the montage ended, the tagline ‘Only Les Bleus can give us these emotions’ came across the screen. Whilst nodding to myself in agreement, the next few seconds of the ad instantly made me self aware of my own bias towards the men’s game - the exact bias the ad was targeting and calling out.
‘But that’s not them you’ve just seen’. The video revealed that it had in fact tricked me into thinking that the skillful goals and tricks were performed by men, when they were actually performed by women.
Using VFX and AI deepfake technology, the ad had plastered the faces of France's most well known male players onto the bodies of the women in the French women’s team. The remainder of the spot showcased the original clips in all their glory, ending with the copy: ‘At Orange we support les Bleues.’
The ad was created by Publicis Groupe’s AI platform Marcel for mobile network Orange France. It is a product of the brand’s partnership with the French Football Federation (FFF) - formed ahead of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup taking place in Australia and New Zealand.
While it is obvious that the campaign looks to highlight the fact that women are just as skilled at football as men, the way in which the message slapped me across the face does not compare to any ad I have ever seen. To be presented with something so universally respected and recognised, only to be told that you are actually looking at something universally disrespected and under-appreciated - was truly powerful. The ad’s secret weapon is its ability to reel in the viewer only to pull back the veil and reveal a harsh truth - that women’s football is not held in as high esteem as men’s. And while all the best ads draw people in like this, this spot addresses sexist views held by many football-watching men across the world - except this time they cannot deny that the women’s game is beautiful.
The campaign almost acts as a lawyer eliciting a confession from a defendant in denial. After pressing the person in question on the validity of his outdated views the defendant would exclaim: “Yes! Women can kick a ball just as well as men!”
The campaign forces viewers from all walks of life to challenge their preconceived notions, an evermore important act in a time in which - one could argue - social media and fake news has created a pandemic of stubbornness and hatred.