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The Trade Desk

Day 21: The first Lions winner

We take a look back at the very first Lions winner - and the director's other work

Long ago, back in 1954, 130 people assembled in Venice for the first International Advertising Film Festival. The spectacle of adland descending en masse on the French Riviera wasn't even a twinkle in their eye – with just 187 entries from 14 countries.

The first winner was "Il Circo", a three-minute animated film for Chlorodont – a German toothpaste brand. Using stop-motion animation, the toothpaste is brought to life as a series of circus attractions – a ringmaster, an elephant, and a snake charmer (charming a "snake" of toothpaste") before taming a lion representing tooth decay.

Produced by Ferry Mayer and directed by Paul Bianchi, it's a remarkable piece of animation; with fluid motion and vivid images that bring the product to life. Though Cholorodont won the distinction of being the first Lions winner, the brand is no more – production ended in the 1980s.

Bianchi continued to lent his distinctive stop-motion style to advertising, however. This effort for Barilla pasta features a choreographed dance of forks that's very reminiscent of the Lions-winning Chlorodont ad:

Another ad for the same client combines line drawing with animated eggs to create a spectacle that resembles film musicals of the 1930s:

In this charming film for Palmolive, Bianchi depicts a train carrying the soap to all corners of the country – in one sequence, he uses a technique seen in Il Circo to depict the soap bars "walking".

Most intriguing of all though, is this film from much earlier – 1935, to be exact. The British Film Institute catalogue records that a "Paul Bianchi" created a stop motion animation for Craven A cigarettes set in a "circus type arena" – which can surely only be this ad:

It certainly bears many of the hallmarks of Bianchi's style – from the Busby Berkeley-style choreography to the circus setting – and those walking animation techniques. If it is the work of the same director, it just goes to show that some ideas are worth reusing...

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