This Wonderfully Shot Ad Captures the Wild Energy of Childhood (and Its Effect on Clothes)

Ready, set, go!

Headshot of Angela Natividad

Oh, if a kid’s favorite jumper could talk!

Fresh out of the wash, BETC Paris gives us “Tough Day,” the latest ad signed with retail brand Petit Bateau’s “For Serious Kids” tagline.

Set to Plastic Bertrand’s irresistible song “Ça plane pour moi,” and featuring a cameo from what looks like a glamrock Muppet drummer, the work follows a day in the high-stakes life of LĂ©o and his marinière sweater.

This is childhood unbridled from helicopter parenting, simply because you just can’t keep up. LĂ©o’s world is a roller coaster, with shots that jerk you left to right and leave you breathless, not to mention the splashes, spills, mud-leaps and snot-wipes that constitute youth well-lived.

But “Tough Day” isn’t just LĂ©o’s story. It’s about his Petit Bateau sailor sweater, which holds up under mighty strain and attacks from all sides: It’s sucked into vacuums, torn, stretched, chewed, and, in one instance, used as a towel.

We almost sigh with relief when it’s thrown in the wash (to a bereft LĂ©o), yanked back out, ironed and set out—inexplicably perfect—for the next day.

In a flash of perfect surrealist timing, the sweater sighs, too.

The “For Serious Kids” signature was released in 2015. It was introduced with an equally delightful film called “The Mini Factory,” featuring a little boy “quality testing” product in a massive hangar whose kit would have made Nickelodeon blanche, even in its most slime-inspired days. These works mark a departure from Petit Bateau’s previous films, the last of which was in 2010, when it launched a demure child sailor ad in which kids appear almost like tiny adults.

With each new film, this fresh take on Petit Bateau lays reinforcing groundwork. The music’s always a high-energy throwback, wedding nostalgic feelings to the romanticized chaos of life before coffee.

Gleeful modernity is a pretty euphemism for the tough living, awkward accidents and simple neglect that constitute the everyday lives of our clothing. And here, those classic sailor stripes—a design that could easily be confined to the realm of kitsch—are tested and mangled but never fully defeated.

Instead, they now threaten to rebrand the way we see childhood itself. That’s supervillain-level mindhacking, Petit Bateau. Bravo.

Client: Petit Bateau
Agency: BETC
Chief Creative Officer: RĂ©mi Babinet
Creative Director: Damien Bellon
Art Directors: Damien Bellon, Juri Zaech
Digital Art Director: Albert Yvert
Copywriters: Samuel Moore, Juri Zaech
Production: Control
Director: Luis Cervero


@luckthelady Angela Natividad is a frequent contributor to Adweek's creativity blog, AdFreak. She is also the author of Generation Creation and co-founder of Hurrah, an esports agency. She lives in Paris and when she isn't writing, she can be found picking food off your plate.