BETC has been able to demonstrate its range of creativity over the last couple of decades, with humorous campaigns popping up very regularly, and often for French premium television channel Canal+. When Canal+ set out to advertise its upcoming broadcasts of the World Poker Tour, BETC started up their ‘Bluff’ campaign to demonstrate the skill involved in poker, and in particular, the fine art of bluffing.
For the campaign, which consisted of prints, BETC took the poker table canvas as the background, Canal+ and the date of the upcoming World Poker Tour event in the bottom right-hand corner, and a huge quote across the middle. Using some very high-profile quotes, BETC demonstrated that ‘bluffing is a fine art’. But, these were no ordinary white lies or common fibs, there was something rather risqué about the quotes that BETC decided to use in their ‘Bluff’ campaign, as you will see below.
One of the more tame prints from the World Poker Tour campaign for Canal+, the quote “Enron stocks will rise up by 800 per cent before 2010” rings from the infamous mouth of former Enron chairman and CEO Kenneth Lay.
Enron was an energy trading firm that was given the title of ‘America’s Most Innovative Company’ for six years running by Fortune. On the 20th and 21st of August, 2001, Kenneth Lay, exercised company options to buy 68,000 shares of Enron for about $21 apiece before learning, on the 22nd of August, that the company may be hit by many accounting scandals soon. So, on the 26th of September, Lay encouraged his employees to buy Enron stock, proclaiming that the value of Enron would increase by 800 per cent before 2010. On the 28th of November, shares fell to below $1 before the company filed for bankruptcy later that year.
Taking a dig at the then president of the USA, Bill Clinton, the quote “I never had sex with Monica Lewinsky” comes from the infamous scandal that encapsulated Clinton and White House intern Lewinsky. Once the scandal had broke to the mainstream press concerning allegations of sexual encounters between Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, the president was quick to deny the allegations in a White House press conference. Standing beside his wife Hilary, Bill Clinton outright stated that he had not had sexual relations with Lewinsky and that he’d never told anybody a lie. Gossip continued to swirl despite Bill and Hilary profusely and publically denying the claims. Seven months after rejecting the allegations, Clinton gave a nationally televised statement admitting that he had an inappropriate relationship with Lewinsky.
In what may be the bluff with the biggest fallout to make it into BETC’s Canal+ World Poker Tour campaign, the advertising agency decided to take aim at professor Pierre Pellerin, France’s former nuclear safety watchdog at the time of the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, who has claimed that “the Chernobyl fallout stopped just before the French border.”
After the Chernobyl reactor had exploded, it caused a cloud of nuclear contamination to pass over the west, including areas of France. At the time, Pellerin published findings of low to average findings of radiation across entire regions of France, issuing statements that would reassure the public. Then, 20 years later, Pellerin was accused of deliberately concealing the seriousness of the contaminated areas of France, with then-prime minister Jacques Chirac being accused of conspiring a cover-up.
One of the most famous moments of the 2006 World Cup in Germany was when Zinedine Zidane head-butted Marco Materazzi in the final, getting sent off for his troubles. It’s clear that the two have a verbal exchange before the Frenchman rams into the Italian, but Materazzi says “I have not insulted Zidane.” Rumours have swung back and forth as to who said what during this incident, with Materazzi proclaiming his innocence many times and, ultimately, winning out as it was Italy who hoisted the trophy after penalties. But, at the bottom of it all, whatever the Italian said was enough for one of, if not the best footballers in the world to throw away a World Cup to exact vengeance for the statement that he heard.
Finally, the most risqué of them all, the famous words uttered by American football star O.J. Simpson concerning the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman, with BETC deciding to go all-out by referencing this infamous tale.
Due to a mixture of DNA evidence not being overly trusted or accepted in the USA as well as a case for systematic racism among police officers, O.J. Simpson’s “Dream Team” defence managed to convince a jury that he was not guilty of the crime. But, he was later found at fault for their wrongful deaths in a civil suit, with footage surfacing decades after the 1994 murders that seemingly shows Simpson admitting to the crime.
The ‘Bluff’ campaign was particularly brilliant because of how in-tune it is with major headlines and how hysterical BETC was to select such quotes to call out as bluffs. They could have easily gone down a more common theme associated with poker, such as a Western-themed advert. The theme itself is still incredibly popular and associated with poker, with video games like Red Dead Redemption as well as online games like Dead or Alive holding instant recognisability with the public because of their themes. That’s what makes this comedic campaign so great: BETC diverted from the norm to produce something original and very memorable. The agency has created other humorous advertising campaigns for Canal+ too, including their famous ‘The Bear’ advert, as well as the brilliant ‘Brokeback Mountain’ incorrect imagining advert.
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