France has been working through "deconfinement" for a week, the slow loosening of a country-wide enforced lockdown. And while its terms are cautious—no movement beyond a 62-mile radius, no gatherings over 10 people, no swoony picnics by the Seine, no bars or restaurants—the fact remains: People can see each other again, provided we use a little common sense. We can draw near (hopefully still with masks), maybe even share a dinner table (provided it's big enough for personal space).
That said, we are all being initiated into a new reality, and it's hardly over. Progressive deconfinement isn't a call to throw a kegger. There is still death every day, and as far as we can tell, Covid-19 remains as contagious as ever. So everyone feels varying—sometimes conflicting—levels of caution. Still, the springtime air is abuzz—no longer with bees, sadly, but with people on strolls, finding each other again.
French grocery chain Intermarché captures that anticipation of reunion nicely in "I Want to Be With You" by agency Romance, directed by Katia Lewkowicz.
This does so much with so little. Mostly, it is the doorways to homes. But details count. In fact, they pop. The triple-bolted Parisian apartment. The country house hallway. The coats and shoes, neatly lined. The photos and pictures affixed to walls, desks, doors. These homes feel lived-in but also too quiet, pregnant with the absence of transition. Isn't that what doors are for?
Overhead, Nina Simone chants "Vous êtes seul mais je désire être avec vous"—you're alone but I want to be with you—until it becomes a drumbeat, raising heat for what's to come. A Dalmatian races for an entryway. A portal begins to open. And a silhouette with a big bouquet of flowers rings a doorbell.
"At last," the copy breathes. "We'll be there the day you organize that first dinner with those you missed so much."
We've seen a lot of ads that play on Zoom culture, and more than our share of achingly earnest "in these uncertain times," but this is the first we've encountered that plays on the topic of deconfinement specifically, with such delicacy. Its mindful use of absence and arrival honors the specific kind of loneliness that's defined the last few months: The people who weave in and out of our lives are no less dear, it turns out, than the ones we shelter with (when we share a roof at all).
It avoids feeling treacly, which would have been the case if a lesser director surrendered to the compulsion to show people hugging, or some equally smarmy depiction of intimacy that would fail to capture the complexity of these emotions. It's not hugging I miss. It's smiles on faces that have subtly changed, and the casual touching of hands. It's the big, rowdy Mother's Day lunch with my husband's family. It's my best friends barging through my door with bottles, the stubble of beards brushing against my face. It's finding someone digging through the fridge for all the things I didn't want them to eat. And it's arguing with them late into the night, when we've all had too much to drink and think we sound more rational than we do.
The Zoom calls have been fun, but they barely approximate a long frothy meal together, sitting in the afterglow of a story, awash in the satisfied calm of everyone feeling glad they came.
I can still barely imagine people crossing our threshold. It feels too early. The thought of it—the door swinging open, and the sight of familiar strangers wiping their feet and closing the gap between us—does make me very happy, but cautiously so.
I think we never quite understood how fragile these moments are, counted and finite like all the others.
That's everything that blossomed in the watching of "I Want to Be With You." To bring things back to the purely pragmatic, and to the obvious brand value, what else are you going to do with all those recipes you've learned?
Strategic and Operational Marketing Manager : Vincent Bronsard
Marketing and Communication Director : Anne-Marie Gaultier
Brand and Communication Manager : Camille Sassi
CEO : Christophe Lichtenstein
Executive Creative Director : Alexandre Hervé
Copywriter : Philippe Pinel
Art Director : Julien Rézette
Associate Directors : Marie-Laure Dangeon, Emilie Franck
Senior Strategy Planner : Jérome Lavillat
Account Director : Arthur Amis
Account Manager : Julie Valero
TV Producer: Emilie Talpaert
Production : Grand Bazar
Director : Katia Lewkowicz
DOP/Steady Camer : Thomas Burgess
Editor : Yann Malcor
Producer : Juliette Desmarescaux
Executive producer : Hugo Mérival
Production coordinator : Manon Guay
Sound production : Schmooze