WHAT'S THE BIG IDEA? ACE IN THE HOLE

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Peugeot is using magic to sell cars in a new U.K. cinema spot, but not any lumbering disappearing-elephant tricks à la Siegfried & Roy. This is gritty 'street' magic, via the charismatic cardsharp David Blaine.

The two-minute spot, which runs before Star Wars -- The Phantom Menace in England, features Blaine performing mesmerizing card tricks on the streets of Brooklyn. Brooklyn? For the tea and crumpets crowd? "New York urban street cool is ve ry fashionable in the U.K," says Mark Wnek, executive creative director at Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper, London. Wnek, who is also the writer on the spot, chose what he calls the "advertainment" format to avoid the usual "glorified showroom" style of car ad. He prefers to tease the audience mercilessly so that they'll be more likely to go to the dealer to check out the car themselves.

In addition to being a standout in the car category, the spot also grabs attention by being in direct opposition to the over-the-top pyrotechnic spots that other advertisers chose to fit with the Star Wars theme. This is about the softest sell in history, even by cinema-spot standards. The new Peugeot 206GTi is seen in brief glimpses in the background, and doesn't fully appear on camera till Blaine gets behind the wheel at the end of the spot and drives away in a rocketlik e blur. Wnek likens the effect to Blaine's magic. "It's a kind of a sleight of hand -- if you blink you miss the car."

Word of mouth has been great, according to Wnek. "It kinda helps that Star Wars wasn't that good," he laughs. "It makes us look even better."

Client: Peugeot 206 GTI Agency: EURO RSCG Wnek Gosper, UK CD/CW: Mark Wnek AD:

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