Night of the AdEaters

Founder of the world famous Cinematheque Jean Marie Boursicot gives Team TMN a little insight into the history and future plans for advert festival, “Night of the AdEaters”

All of the advertisements featured at the “Night of the AdEaters” are from your collection. How did you get started?

As a kid, I was fascinated by cinema. I was a regular at the movie theaters in the “5 Avenues” neighboring Marseilles, but at the age of 10, I saw my first ‘treasure’ – a 4m x 3m poster boasting the merits of a soft cheese made by the firm Gervais. After frequent visits to these film houses, the projectionist at Cine Madeline noticed me and gave me snippets of advertising film for companies such as Gervais ice cream and Krema candy. Of course, I wanted more of these, and I found myself raking through trash cans, but not just any trash cans. These were the trash cans of the film distributors. Little by little, I amassed these treasures and rapidly enriched a collection that combined my passion for posters, ads and the cinema. I never imagined that this childhood interest would one day turn into a career. On the advice of friends, I went to Paris and started working at Publicis, a French advertising agency, where I noticed that the advertising film was being thrown away. Not even the agencies kept them, so I started collecting them, and decided to show them for the first time in Paris in 1980.

The “Night of the AdEaters” has been touring the world for 33 years. Why did you choose to take this library of TV and cinema commercials around the world?

Actually, it was not a choice. Maintaining a cinematheque is a huge task: collecting new adverts; restoring old ones. I even had the very first commercial from 1898! There were thousands of spots. Keeping the collection requires passion, time, energy, and a lot of space to put all these reels and tapes. And, of course, I needed money! I created the Night of the AdEaters to keep this one-of-a-kind cinematheque alive, and it was and still is a way to pay the bills, and to share my passion for cinema and advertising at the same time.

How does the Cinematheque acquire new ads?

We are always in touch with hundreds of agencies around the world, as well as festivals. Every year we receive 15,000 to 25,000 new commercials for the Cinematheque, and some of them are selected for the “Night.”

Who curates the set for the “Night of the AdEaters?” How does he/she decide what to include?

It is a personal choice. This is my way of sharing a much more cinematic vision of advertising. The marketing aspect is overshadowed in favor of powerful images, humor, music, unexpected situation, and the like.

How many languages feature in your commercials?

There are around 40 languages in our commercials, in addition to some rare dialects.

You don’t use subtitles! Why do you think that you don’t need translations?

The “Night of the AdEaters” is all about emotions, and the messages are brief and dense. They can be understood by everyone. They transcend linguistic and cultural differences.

More than 100 cities sign on to your annual tours. How did you get Dubai on board?

Last April, Mohammed Qara’een from Kilograms Creative Tactics got in touch with us through our website He had previously attended one of our shows in the Middle East, and described the “Night” as a breathtaking experience. Since then, everything has passed speedily and efficiently. I am now in Dubai for the first time.

Will you be broadcasting the festival on networks in the region?

I was not asked to do so, but it would be nice.

Why do you think people should go to the festival?

People will enjoy great moments of cinema with their friends. They will laugh a lot and watch exotic, surprising and beautiful adverts that reflect trends from different parts of the world. The festival is also a great source of inspiration for advertising professionals.

What are you hoping that people will take away from the festival?

Of course I hope they will have a great time, and for those who are not ad-addicts, I hope the “Night of the AdEaters” will convince them that advertising is not only about selling products, but offers moments of real cinema, and can evoke real emotions.

Can ad agencies in Dubai get involved with AdEaters?

Unfortunately, we didn’t receive a lot of commercials from Dubai, this year. I really hope that the “Night of the AdEaters” will encourage ad agencies to send their work to us, and to see how important it is to keep alive the memory of advertising. This is our main goal.

Where can ‘publivores’ get tickets?

Tickets to the “Night of the AdEaters” in Dubai are available through TimeOut Tickets and Platinum Tickets. For further information, call +971 (0)56 349 8212.

Do you have any plans to expand within the Middle East in the future?

We’ve already been to Kuwait, Syria, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt, but I would love to organise annual “Nights” everywhere in the Middle East. This is the case in Lebanon, where the show has been organised for more than 10 years. We need to find the right partners who understand the interest of preserving the memory of advertising.


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