We Van’s first foray into advertising was a one-of-a-kind experience. Götz Göppert, the photographer, had just come back from crossing the Namibian desert on a motorbike, and after our photo shoot, he was due to go to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Between the two trips, the We Van alchemists took him on a slight detour to the most rustic and exotic location of his entire career: the Hameau aux Ducs. And yet the German photographer seemed quite at home at our support base, squeezed in amongst blackberry bushes a short hop from the untamed coast of the Cotentin Peninsula. After all, Cotentin is basically a greener version of the Namibian desert. The meticulous planner that he is, Joseph had brought along enough water to hydrate a multigenerational group – Augustin and his family as extras, Alexandre, the artistic director, François, the advertising consultant, Götz, and me, the Swiss army knife – on a lengthy camel trek.
A caravan of vans bursting at the seams with mismatched bits and bobs, fishing rods, surf boards, floaty dresses, willow baskets, an ironing board… As soon as the sun rose we were steered from wild beauty spot to wild beauty spot, to replicate the many joys of living in a camper van against a wet and windy backdrop. Our advertisement stories began with the Bouyer family tumbling out of bed, looking adorable in pyjamas. In a most professional manner and with Götz’s viewfinder firmly focused on them, they were ready for the seaside shoot.
The boys were photographed fishing in 50 cm of water, an unlikely spot for a true fisherman. A small sacrifice for the sake of appearances, as Goetz seemed more interested in recreating the atmosphere of the moment than a superficial image of the journey.
Our adventures in acting continued until dusk, when we found ourselves on the beach. Anxious not to miss the rich colour of the changing sky, we quickly set up something that looked like a camp. The wind was still blowing. Wrapped in blankets, we warmed our hands around a fire pit brought to life with a splash (or two) of petrol, and we raised our glasses. Or at least, we pretended to.
Little by little, we managed to blot out the frantic clicking from Goetz’s camera. Götz himself had been blotted out by the dark of night. In the end, we truly believed we were on holiday, on the beach, around the fire, with a bed reassuringly close at hand. So thank you We Van, for showing us a real adventure that wasn’t real, in this great big world that we will never finish exploring…