GEORGES BRASSENS "LES PASSANTES"

Short List
ClientUNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP
Category E08. Excellence in Music Video
TitleGEORGES BRASSENS "LES PASSANTES"
Product/ServiceVIDEO CLIP
Entrant HAVAS Paris, FRANCE
Idea Creation HAVAS Paris, FRANCE
Production ICONOCLAST Paris, FRANCE
Production 2 HRCLS Paris, FRANCE
Additional Company UNIVERSAL MUSIC FRANCE Paris, FRANCE
Credits
Name Company Position
Thibault Kuhlmann Universal Music & Brands General Manager
Alice Bonnet Universal Music & Brands Projects manager
Natacha Krantz Mercury Music France General Manager Mercury Music France
Christophe Coffre Havas Paris Chief Creative Officer
Thierry Grouleaud Havas Paris Deputy General Director
Virginie Meldener Havas Paris TV Producer
Charlotte Abramow Iconoclast Photograph and Director
Quentin DE LAMARZELLE Iconoclast Head Operator
Arthur CATTON Iconoclast Producer
Nizar El Tayeb Iconoclast Producer

Why is this work relevant for Entertainment?

How can words from the past inspire the generation of the future? In an era where nostalgia is often viewed as out-of-date and regressive, this music video combined a poem from 1911, a song from 1972 and a one of today’s most promising visual artists. Released on International Women’s Day, this music video sparked France into a conversation about the representation of women in mainstream media and it even “freed the nipple” in a triumphant public debate around VEVO and YouTube’s censorship guidelines.

Background

There were 2 questions at the heart of this project: -Is it still possible to give today’s teenagers a mainstream platform to re-discover classic songs of the past? -What would be the best way to create an empowering message to people of all ages in France on International Women’s Day? With music videos being the most consumed type of content we decided that this would be our chosen path. After digging through the Universal archive we found a song both rooted in French culture and with a bold message of equality. This song was the French classic "Les Passantes" by George Brassens; a musical rendering of Antoine Pol's poem. The heirs of George Brassens, has directly contributed to the success of this project accepting an innovative approach. Although written by a man over a century ago, the words felt so beautifully relevant to the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements of today.

Describe the creative idea

The standout player from the whole project was our visual artist and Director Charlotte Abramow. Already an activist for women’s rights, Abramow brought her unique modern approach to the song. Together with the production company, she created an aesthetic and narrative that was unapologetic, unabashed and striking but with an honest and vulnerable beauty. And most importantly it celebrated all women: regardless of age, shape, profession or colour...

Describe the strategy

The strategy was simple and clean: start a conversation. By premiering the video on International Women’s Day we hoped to get the public and the industry talking about societal gender roles, the portrayal of women in mainstream media and what it means to be feminine. We collectively hoped that this contemporary video would make its place in history just as the poem and song before it had. But this time it would be reimagined through the eyes of a woman; the muse that had inspired the original over a hundred years ago. We hoped to show progress.

Describe the execution

Following the four days video shoot, Universal Music France released the video as they would release any other priority music video. The video was teased across the social networks of the record label and the director. Ahead of the premiere an official press release was delivered to a selection of culture and music specialist media and press networks. The press release also announced an official premiere event which would unveil the film on the day of release at the cinema L’ Arlequin in Paris.

Describe the outcome

As well as receiving over half-a-million streams in two weeks, the video had managed to completely reinvigorate a song from the 1970s with a modern audience. The biggest success was an unexpected one. After uploading the video, YouTube censored the breasts of the women video much to Abramow’s confusion. It confirms our society is not ready yet to see women how they really are. In response she posted a series of indignant comments across her social medias which sparked a great deal of conversation. Following this protest and online flurry, YouTube revoked the censorship and allowed the women to be shown in their full glory, as they had chosen to be shown. It was a first and timely success. Charlotte Abramow proved that progress can be made if we speak out honestly and passionately. It was the perfect way to mark the most impactful International Women’s Day to date.