Il fait beau dans l’métro!

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Watching these old advertisements—one from the 1980s for the Paris metro and another from the 1970s for the Montreal metro—leave me with mixed feelings. My initial reaction is to ridicule them for their kitschiness (or kétainerie, as one might say here in Quebec) but, at the same time, I feel a slight pang of regret that public transit agencies can no longer afford to buy television air time, especially not for an entire minute. Wouldn’t the Montreal Transit Corporation benefit from more of a brand identity? Public transit doesn’t need to be anonymous, the public made aware of its services solely by necessity.

Anyway, the strangest thing about the first Paris ad is its ridiculous soundtrack, which consists of a man singing things like “tic tac toc, tata clica clic” and background vocalists replying with “tata clica clac, tata clica clac, tika tika toc.” I have no idea what this is meant to represent, but this kind of gibberish actually seems to go well with the ad, complimenting a fairly striking—but goofy—set of images, linked together by the image of a yellow ticket bisected by a brown magnetic stripe. (Update: a reader with clearer ears than mine reports that “tata clica clic” is actually “t’as le ticket clic,” which makes more sense.) My favourite image is that of a striped Eiffel Tower passing behind the silhouette of a man wearing a beret, which not only evokes two of the biggest Paris stereotypes you can imagine, but also suggests either sex (swallowing a giant yellow penis) or violence (being impaled by a giant yellow dagger).

On the whole, the Paris ad is a bit more sophisticated than its early-1970s counterpart in Montreal, entitled “Il fait beau dans l’métro.” I enjoy it because it is a perfect embodiment of the seventies aesthetic: long hair, big moustaches, and bold primary colours. I also love that the music is based around the three-tone chime emitted by the metro’s brake system when it leaves a station.

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This entry was written by Christopher DeWolf , posted on Sunday April 22 2007at 11:04 am , filed under Canada, History, Society and Culture, Transportation, Video and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

10 Responses to “Il fait beau dans l’métro!”

  • Chris says:

    These are amazing. The best part is in the Montreal ad when all the people in the bus laugh at the guy stuck in traffic.

  • Patrick Donovan says:

    The Paris one may be more visually appealing but Montreal wins hands down for the fantastic song, dance routines and moustaches.

  • Benoit says:

    What the guy is signing in the Paris metro ad is “tic, tac, toc, t’as le ticket clic, t’as le ticket tac, t’as le ticket toc, ticket ticket chic, ticket ticket choc, etc..”. It sounds like this ad probably was aired at the time they introduced a new kind of métro ticket. So it’s not complete nonsense…

  • Wow, now I’m embarrassed. You’re right, he is singing “t’as le ticket clic,” etc.

  • Sam Jensen says:

    While Paris definantly tops the list in terms of style, none of those are as kitschy as this commercial for Milwaukee’s transit system from the ’80’s with Sulu from Star Trek!

    We still have commercials for the transit system here, despite that it’s going bankrupt. The current campaign is “The bus-Your other set of wheels” and involves people sarcastically talking about their love of traffic jams.

  • Sam Jensen says:

    It wouldn’t imbed the video here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kCvvjzMxeo

  • At first I was perplexed—George Takei and Milwaukee?—until I read that in the 1980s he served on Los Angeles’ MTA board of directors and he was part of the team that planned the LA subway. He must have been quite the ardent supporter of public transit to make the trek out to Milwaukee for a bus company commercial!

  • Justin Bur says:

    Wow, the two most famous public transit advertising campaigns I had never actually seen but only heard of!

    The magnetic-striped ticket was introduced in Paris in 1974. The «ticket chic, ticket choc» campaign began in 1982 and continued for some time afterwards. The tickets stayed yellow for many years, but they were switched to pale green in the 1990s and in 2003 they turned mauve! The ticket is currently marketed as the “ticket t”. Its importance is declining as smart-card systems slowly take over.

    Official FAQ on mauve tickets: http://www.ratp.info/informer/tic_t_faq.php

    Old Paris metro tickets: http://www.sprague-thomson.com/tickets_de_metro.htm

    Complete lyrics for the ticket chic, ticket choc song (the ad posted here contains just the final refrain): http://www.bide-et-musique.com/song/1403.html

    —-

    They should have used «Il fait beau dans l’métro» in the film C.R.A.Z.Y. :-)

  • Chris says:

    Not sure how true it is but apparently the man at around 0:50 in the Montreal clip is a cameo by none other than a young Mark Messier.

  • Karl Leung says:

    These are so cool Chris. Kudos for digging them out for us to enjoy! I must check out the other pieces you’ve written on transpo-adverts!