Client: Nestlé
Agency: Marcel
Territory: France

4 stars

The trend for turning publicity stunts into television ads has produced some recent marketing gems. But the French have trumped them all with this ad for Contrex mineral water.

A crowd walks past a row of random pink exercise bikes. Out of curiosity, some women get on and pedal. The bikes power up neon wires that climb up the wall of the opposite building, where the giant neon outline of a well-toned man appears. He takes off his jacket and moves his hips to the music. The crowd whoops and cheers. A woman flings off her stilettos so she can pedal faster.

The more they pedal, the more he strips. Seconds later, the man is in his briefs. When they come off too, a strategically-placed sign declares: “Bravo, vous avez dépensé 2000 calories”.

The women roar with laughter then sip from the bottles of Contrex strategically placed beside the exercise bikes.

Selling a bottled version of something that comes for free from kitchen taps is no mean feat. Perhaps this explains why still mineral water brands have often struggled to inspire great advertising. The market is littered with clichés that spell out too much: cute babies representing purity or images of green mountains, volcanoes or blue lakes to symbolise nature. Meanwhile campaigns that have used sport or exercise to highlight the link between water, thirst and health have tended to be too earnest.

Marcel, the Paris-based agency behind this ad for Nestlé’s Contrex brand, has instead opted for laughs, while retaining the essential link between water and thirst.

Targeted entirely at women, the ad’s message is nothing new in itself: if you want to lose weight, do some exercise – and when you get thirsty drink lots of (Contrex) water. But the concept is original, its delivery delightful and it is tailor-made to go viral. And it is all the more impressive for raising the game in market normally strewn with clichés.

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