Gitane Catch… 1961. Production La Comète. Dir. André Sarrut et Jacques Asséo

Where would the advertising world be without animation ? That is obviously a question to be turned around too, each having fed and nurtured their forms reciprocally throughout their long collaboration. The communication and advertising agencies of today are more or less tightly linked with design and animation studios. Their history is a fascinating perspective on how animation has developed and may help pinpoint a particular shift from what was initially pure character driven cartoon animation to the more graphic design informed domain of motion graphics which seems to have taken hold as the dominant force in the advertising world of today.
After a return visit to the exhibition in Paris, ‘La Pub s’anime’, (Animated Ads), I wanted to jot down a few key moments along with the people that paved the way towards our present day marketing world. This is obviously a focus on the history in France but the question begs : How did advertising and animation develop in other developing countries ?

Gitanes La logique de Toto 1926. Robert Lortac & André Payen

** 1918 – 35 **

Robert Collard (1884 – 1973),often named Robert Lortac, sets up Europe’s first animation studio in Montrouge in 1919. The studio is reputed to have created quantitatively the greatest number of animated films in France and remained active up until 1945. Amongst the first 15 employees, a certain Raymond Savignac who was already a well known poster artist of the era. To begin with, animated ads were informed by graphic design and the poster format. Illustration and typographic elements were often taken from existing poster ads and animated, finishing off with a fitting slogan and the name of the product.

Gitanes La logique de Toto 1926. Robert Lortac & André Payen

** 1936 **

Animated ads were first screened as intervals for the cinema, however ad agencies wanted to keep people in the cinema during the breaks. Enter the cartoon character and storytelling. From this point on commercials become closely tied to
traditional cartoons and develop into saga long commercials that entice as entertain the public.

Paul Grimault (1905 – 1994) and André Sarrut ( ) set up Les Gemeaux production house. However….

** 1950 – 68 **

….in 1952, after misunderstandings, the two associates split and Paul Grimault opens, Les Films Paul Grimault and André Sarrut starts his own studio, La Comète, with animator Jacques Asséo.

In the fifties, France develops as a consumer society and the budget for ad agencies doubles. Consequently their is a mushrooming of production houses, some of which dedicate their activities purely to creating commercials. This is the case for Sarrut’s La Comète which made more than 2000 commercial films exporting 80% of their output and became the most important film company for animated commercials in Europe at the time.

Air Wick Pour ceux qui ont du nez 1955. André Sarrut & Jacques Asséo

>>>Watch Gitane Bleue


Gitane Bleue 1958. André Sarrut & Jacques Asséo

Total Oil 1958. André Sarrut


In 1953, Jacques Forgeot (1923-1969) opens Les Cinéastres Associaciés and employs some of France’s and indeed Europe’s leading animators : Raoul Franco, Etienne Rajk (1904-1976), Paul Casalini (1933 – ) and the Bettiol brothers. Not forgetting Alexandre Alexeieff (1901-1982) who had just come back from a passage in Amercia and had already a rich and innovative background in working for commercials.

Le Parisien Concourt 1960. Production Jean Mineur. Dir. Raoul Franco

EDF/GDF. Eau Chaude 1961. Production Jean Mineur. Dir. Raoul Franco

** 1970 **

Remains a minor period with struggling output due to high costs, competition from television ads and a return to live action.

** 1980 **

This is a major period of technological change – the arrival of digital imaging and the development of 3D. Exmachina becomes the third largest production house in special effects in the World. The likes of Pierre Coffin (1967..), Pascal Vuong (1960..) and the H5 Collective push forward the form and major production houses such as TBWA and Buf set up business specializing in CGI visual effects and animation.

Restore L’homme moteur synthétique 1984. Agence Hautefeuille. Dir. Jerzy Kular

>>> Watch a selection of French animated ads
>>> 1950’s Commercials
>>> Animated Logos