Ferrari, a boutique hat company that also sells rich people cars, recently took it upon itself to remake one of the great car films ever shot, with one of the best drivers in the world, in one of the best locations in the world, with one of its newest and fastest cars. The result can only indicate that Ferrari simply does not give a shit.
The ad is nominally a remake of Claude Lelouch’s 1976 “C’était un rendez-vous.” Ferrari even got Lelouch to direct this new ad.
The connection, at its core level, is that the original rendez-vous was of a Ferrari racing through the (nearly) deserted early morning streets of Paris. The car itself was a bit of a question mark, as it was never seen, only heard. In actuality, Lelouch dubbed the sound of his Ferrari over the driving footage of a hot rod Mercedes 6.9, one of the great sleeper cars of the era, and one of the great bits of pre-internet mystery for both gearheads and film buffs.
Lelouch didn’t close the streets of Paris for the shoot, and what you see on screen is a mix of street racing snuff and cinéma vérité, or whatever you might want to call it.
This time around, the remake gets all the blessings that the original never got. There’s an actual Ferrari, for one. (It’s the spectacularly… distinctive Ferrari SF90.) And Lelouch got closed streets, with the blessings of Monaco, maybe thanks to the Monagesque driver Charles Leclerc.
But this time around every spark of the original is gone. We get to see the car. We get to see the driver. And it’s not even good footage. It’s ugly GoPro action, complete with overpowering wind noise. There’s what’s pretty clearly an iPhone shot in there, and honestly it’s probably the best bit in the video.
But worse than the quality is the attitude of the clip. It’s clearly just a soulless ad, but that it’s masquerading as a Rendez-vous remake gets me. It’s lazy, sure, but it’s also taking something I like and making it bad. Now every time I think of Rendez-vous I’ll also be thinking of this ugly Ferrari ad. This is rude from Ferrari, and disrespectful to me personally. It is also rude to be this bad and also this lazy. And the laziness is clearly apparent, as Top Gear’s Chris Harris points out:
All of us content creators who have worried about the rise of the auto-maker as creator and broadcaster of its own content and message, just watch the Ferrari SF90 video made by Ferrari. It reminds us we still have a big part to play, because it’s lazy and badly executed.
— chris harris (@harrismonkey) June 15, 2020
This, of course, should be expected. It’s an ad, after all, and it is fundamentally callous and coming from a bad place. Ferrari doesn’t really need to advertise its new cars. People buy up all of Ferrari’s new stock anyway. So Ferrari doesn’t need to put in any effort. (Just have our paid driver drive around in our own car for a bit! We don’t even need to add any new contacts into our phone directory!) I just wished Ferrari hadn’t even added this bit of marketing into the universe. At least when Renault did it, the sound was good.