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Known for his ability to fuel innovation in the over-saturated world of commercial advertising in order to deliver powerful messages that touch the hearts of millions, director Olivier Philippe has continued to remain ahead of the game throughout his career.
An undeniable industry powerhouse, Olivier Philippe is known as the “the quiet strength” behind numerous successful commercials, television programs and award-winning films. Over the years he has worked with iconic global brands including L’Oréal, Guerlain, Dior and Hennessy, as well as served as the director behind key segments of hit television series such as “Farmer Wants a Wife,” “Top Gear” and the BBC’s “The Great British Bake Off.” In 2015, he also directed the insightful docuseries “The Other Face of Bill Gates,” which offered insight into the mastermind behind the trillion dollar software company Microsoft.
Olivier Philippe has long been known as an innovator in the industry. Back in 2002 he created the cultural news program “SODA,” which averaged over 50 million weekly viewers on TV5MONDE, the world’s largest French-language channel. Taking the location out of the traditional studio environment and setting it up on the street, Philippe changed the game with “SODA,” which included a mix of entertainment-related topics and interviews with celebrities including Oscar winners Ben Affleck, Marion Cotillard and Emma Thompson. Another one of Philippe’s profoundly successful works was the film “Carma,” which he wrote, directed and produced, and which earned over 25 awards at international film festivals, including the Los Angeles Film Awards and New York Film Awards, among many others.
As a commercial director, Olivier Philippe’s progressive “out with the old'' approach led him to develop a new style of commercial that audiences can relate to on a more personal level. In what he refers to as “reactive commercials,” Philippe proposed to forget the regular ways of promoting everyday shelf products, and offer the public exactly what it is that they wanted to hear-- trusted content that was relevant to the challenges brought about by the pandemic restrictions.
“It’s unique because I propose to stick to ‘real life’ almost like we do in a news TV report team, but then use that model for a commercial or a branded content film, which allows the brand to propose a story that links with the context of its clients. This approach required us to forget the old fashion way of conceiving and producing advertisements,” explains Philippe.
“Instead of planning a regular campaign with one message and using it for several months, I proposed to produce, in a lighter, and more reactive way, a commercial reflecting the actual situation of the consumers. This required a complete review of the conception of these commercials, their production and also their distribution.”
Last year, he exercised his new approach in a series of successful commercials for the billion dollar European supermarket chain Casino Group, which manages international brands including Monoprix, Franprix, Leader Price, Spar and Le Petit Casino. Both commercials “Merci” and “Joyeuses fêtes de fin d'année,” directed by Philippe, highlighted the personal efforts and extreme lengths every brand and their employees went through in order to connect to the public through the midst of the pandemic.
“Usually supermarkets do fairly classic advertisements where they promote the variety of their products, their low prices or the smile of their salespeople. Agencies therefore brainstorm with their clients and after months of reflection they give birth to a very expensive advertising spot that will run on television and on the web for six months,” says Philippe.
“With Casino and Elephant, an agency I work with a lot, I proposed to forget this kind of very general idea and also this very heavy production method, to do something lighter and which can adapt to the consumer situation which changes a lot, sometimes from one week to another, with the Covid 19 pandemic.”
“For Casino, the goal was to show how the different brands of the group were helping people during the pandemic by allowing them to meet their needs and stay connected, even with social distancing,” he says. “The message was to say that Casino was still there, even in difficult times and that the brand could still be counted on the following year.”
What makes this approach so brilliant is that it not only provided the public with guidance and support in a time that they needed it most, which helped to strengthen consumers’ relationship to the brand, but it also saved the Casino Group from spending an astronomical amount of money on long-term campaigns that would perhaps become irrelevant to their target market.
With this creative technique in mind, Olivier Philippe has essentially helped revolutionize the advertising industry by providing responsive advertising material that really matters to consumers in real time. For the “Merci” commercial he chose to highlight the faces behind the masks of Casino’s employees in order to shine a light on those who courageously stood at the frontline of the pandemic and continued to support the demands of their consumers.
The commercial served as a collective thank you to over 220,000 Casino Group workers, a much deserved response considering the strenuous position the employees faced on a daily basis. From rushing to keep the shelves stocked to functioning amidst bizarre security measurements, which included limitations on the amount of toilet paper rolls each customer was allowed to purchase, there’s no question that the employees had their hands full.
Helping the public to find resonance with the ad, Philippe’s ability to layer heartfelt emotions into a three-minute time frame made the commercial a success.
“What is extraordinary about Olivier is that, whatever the film, he always has new ideas, he always finds the detail that makes the difference, the little extra that will set it apart from the competition,” says Casino Group’s Director of Communication Laurence Batard. He added, “What is always astonishing with Olivier is his outlook and his way of renewing himself and his ability to tell real stories.”
From the check-out woman’s gentle smile to the warm welcome each customer receives as their temperature is checked and their hands sanitized, the tone of the commercial offered reassurance to every person who entered their store.
For the "Joyeuses fêtes de fin d'année'' commercial, which translates to “Happy New Year Celebrations,” it was Philippe’s idea to showcase precisely how the Casino Group’s staff and services provided support and guidance to those feeling disconnected.
The success of both commercials not only instilled support to millions and provided an optimistic take on the current situation, but also left a mark on many of his industry peers and co-workers.
“The commercials touched our customers a lot. Especially since as usual, the images created by Olivier Paul Philippe were magnificent with a lot of softness of light and elegance in the shots, we were really under the spell and were extremely moved,” adds Batard.
Similar to the “Merci” commercial, which honored the undeniable strength of thousands of employees, Olivier Philippe also directed a heartfelt commercial for Saint Gobain, a multinational corporation and world leader in construction manufacturing and high-performance materials.
Driven by their purpose of “making the world a better home,” the company, which employs over 167,000 workers around the globe, generated over 38.1 billion euros in sales in 2020. Running in line with the company's mission, Philippe’s authentic method of telling stories that matter helped tow the line between responsive modern advertising and the “standard” way of commercial marketing.
“It’s unique because I proposed to stick to ‘real life,’ almost like we do in a news television reporting team. We made a commercial about the engagement and the courage of the employees that were still working with very complicated sanitary conditions all over the world during the very first confinement,” he says. “Instead of showing the products, it showed the strength and the reliability of the brand.”
A true visionary at heart, Olivier Philippe is an incredibly talented filmmaker who masters every single aspect of the production chain. Known to offer reassurance through determination, the foundation to his success lies within creating authentic content that hits close to home; and in this day and age, that is undoubtedly what the public needs most.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
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