Nov. 16 marked the International Day for Tolerance. For the occasion, the association Burns and Smiles released "Mathéo."
Directed by Bertrand Degove and Fabrice Gobert, "Mathéo" follows a high school boy through a day whose utter banality is a miracle, and would be even if he didn't bear the marks of surviving a physical trauma.
What wishful thinking, we tell ourselves. But instead of driving the nail into our outstretched hand, TBWA\Paris sidesteps the guilt trip with an unexpected act of copywritten absurdity: "The only thing you should find strange, is that jumper," the screen states, deadpan. "Let's change the way we see burns [sic] victims."
It really is a weird jumper.
The work was created "under the impetus"—not sure what that means—of Laurent Gaudens, who suffered severe burns at age 4. Within it lies a question: Can a teen with burns like that live a "normal" life without the burden of stares, ridicule and solitude? This is softened, made more productive, with a delivery that feels more galvanizing than rhetorical: Let's make that world; we're good enough to do it.
In 2017, and under the same campaign banner, "See Different," Burns and Smiles released a quiet masterpiece in awareness advertising. The premise is similar to "Mathéo": a severe burn survivor has a totally normal day, complete with moments where he feels attractive, not self-conscious.
Except it's the opposite of a fantasy. Shot documentary-style, again by TBWA\Paris, it follows a man who takes full advantage of the one day he really can live thus: Halloween.
France sees about 400,000 burn victims per year. Of those, some 10,000 are considered severe by the medical community. There is something to be said about surviving the torments of fire, only to find yourself cast into another, over and over—the burn of shame, suspicion or fear at first glance. Visible burn survivors suffer from an enormous sense of isolation, according to Burns and Smiles.
To help change that, the association provides three major services—mutual aid in a supportive community; events and accelerators that include health professionals, beauticians and personal development coaches; and managing an emergency aid fund.
Maybe a fourth would be helping raise awareness in the larger world with poignant work like "Mathéo" and "Halloween." They're just drops in the sea, sure … but drops are what seas are composed of.
Client : Burns and Smiles
Agency : TBWA\Paris
Advertising Manager : Laurent Gaudens
Agency Managers : Natacha Chevalier, Marion Bellais
Executive Creative Directors : Benjamin Marchal et Faustin Claverie
Conception / Art Direction : Léna Monceau et Julia Deshayes
Head of TV : Maxime Boiron
TV Producer : Lorraine Poincignon
Production : WANDA
Producer : Antoine Bagot
Directors : Bertrand Degove et Fabrice Robert
Head Operator : Jacques Girault
SFX Make Up : Micka Arasco
Post Production : WANDA
Head of post-production : Olivier Glandais
Editor : Cécile Dessertine
Calibrator : Frank Voiturier
Sound Production : TBWA\Else
Head of Music and Sound : Olivier Lefebvre
Sound Director : Fanny Mithois
Sound Ingineer : Vendome UHL, Matthieu Seignez, Max Labarthe
Music rights : Marion Le Guluche
Music : The Only Living Boy in New York
St Germain en Laye City Hall
International High-School of St Germain en Laye
Principal : Isabelle Negrel
Maths / Theater teacher : Serger Seguin