Total, the international French oil company based in Paris, in 2003 made a commitment to looking after the safety of motorists. To promote that commitment, a series of television commercials provided quirky scenarios portraying the extra mile walked by forecourt attendants.
The Telephone (Le Téléphone)
A customer walks into a Total service station and finds the attendant listening attentively to a mobile phone, giving encouraging ‘mm hmm’ sounds. The attendant takes the customer’s money, gives a smile and a wave, all the while engaging with the voice. The attendant walks over to a woman in the shop, helps her choose oil for her car. Finally, he hands the phone over to a man who’s been in the toilet. The ‘conversation’ continues. The tagline, “You won’t come to us by chance”, or in French, “Vous ne viendrez plus chez nous par hasard”.
Lullaby (La Berceuse)
A small convertible car pulls up in a Total service station. The attendant notices the driver is yawning, clearly too tired to drive safely. As he fills the car with fuel he gently rocks the car and whistles a lullaby. In no time at all the driver is asleep. The attendant closes the roof and pushes the car into a parking space, alongside other sleepers. Once again the tagline: “You won’t come to us by chance”, or in French, “Vous ne viendrez plus chez nous par hasard”.
A woman drives into a Total service station. As the attendant washes her windscreen, he notices that she is crying. As he wipes the windscreen dry, her tears are wiped away. It takes three attempts to bring a smile to her face.
The Total Telephone spot was developed at CLM BBDO, Paris, by creative directors Vincent Behaeghel and Bernard Naville, copywriters/art directors Axel Orliac and Laurent Dravet and agency producer Pierre Marcus. The Total Lullaby spot was developed by creative directors Anne de Maupéou and Pascal Grégoire, copywriter Jean-Francois Sacco, art director Gilles Fichteberg, agency producers Pierre Marcus and France Monnet. The Total Crying Woman spot was developed by creative director Anne de Maupéou, copywriter Frédéric Temin, Guillaume de la Croix, agency producers Pierre Marcus and Erinn Lotthé-Guillon.
Filming of Telephone and Lullaby was shot by director Rémy Belvaux via Quad Productions, with director of photography Philippe Le Sourd producers Camille Lipmann (Telephone) and Nicolas Duval (Lullaby). Filming of Crying Woman was shot by director Tony Kaye via Quad Productions, with director of photography Philippe Le Sourd and producer Eliott Goldner.
Little Girl Blue
Music for the Tears spot is “Little Girl Blue”, sung by Janis Joplin.
Sit there, hmm, count your fingers.
What else, what else is there to do ?
Oh and I know how you feel,
I know you feel that youre through.
Oh wah wah ah sit there, hmm, count,
Ah, count your little fingers,
My unhappy oh little girl, little girl blue, yeah
Rémy Belvaux, director for Total Telephone and Lullaby, died on September 4, 2006, aged 38. Belvaux was a Belgian actor, director, producer and screenwriter, known for his 1992 feature film, Man Bites Dog, and many television commercials. See his profile at Wikipedia (French).