How to deliver a serious message through humor

When your customers love an idea and at the same time are a little intimidated by it, you know you’re doing something special.

says David Stevanov, Cannes Lions award-winning creative director at Saatchi and Saatchi. He and his team were challenged to create a campaign to promote French cinema to non-French audiences who prefer Hollywood blockbusters. “From the very beginning, we know that we shouldn’t do anything serious,” Stevenov told Entrepreneur. “The topic is quite serious, so we thought we should look at it through humor and be a little cheeky.”

The result of a creative brainstorm was a Sacha Baron Cohen-esque series of meetings featuring a fake French film director presenting real French plays to unsuspecting Hollywood producers. The makers’ reactions – all authentic and unapologetic – were even funnier than the creative team expected. (“No one wants to see someone die for an hour and a half!” argues an agitated producer.)

The very funny ad skillfully accomplishes two things in a very short amount of time: it’s memorable for the audience and achieves its goal of explaining how French cinema is a treat for those looking for something out of typical Hollywood fare. Great option.

For those reasons, “Pitching French Films to Hollywood” garnered a long list of awards, including gold at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. “It was the first time I won a gold medal, so it was special,” says Stevanov. “My wife was pregnant at the time, and it is superstitious that your luck will be good because it will help welcome the child into the world. So after we won, my colleague turned to me and asked, ‘So, would you Going to have more kids?'”