Shopping Around for a Big Idea, An Ad Agency Pushes a Supercart

updated 04/11/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/11/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

France cannot be France," said Charles de Gaulle, "without greatness." A noble sentiment, but one that's been oddly interpreted these days in Gaul. Because lately it seems that French attempts at greatness have consisted solely in gaining entrance to the Guinness Book of World Records. Last month they gave us (although no one can remember asking for it) the world's largest blazer. Now the land Of Descartes and Sartre has given us the world's biggest shopping cart. Specifically, it was created by a Paris ad agency, Chariopub. Chariot is the French word for cart and pub is short for publicity—as its name suggests, the agency sells advertising on shopping carts. To draw attention to this endeavor, Chariopub ordered the construction of the 880-pound, 13-foot-high and 5½-foot-wide Super Chariot. Its Brobdingnagian basket, 6 feet long and 6½ feet deep, can hold 200 boxes of Ultra Pampers Plus—or enough food to feed a teenager for nearly a week.

Chariopub undraped its creation at the Wiz, a new Paris nightclub whose decor includes a bar made from gas cans and tables made from bathtubs. The supercart seemed to fit right in. "It was great," says the ad agency's commercial director, Eric Narcy. "Some of the top people in Paris advertising were treating a shopping cart like it was the best thing made out of metal since the Eiffel Tower."

Not everyone was impressed. "We spent a lot of money decorating this place," says a bartender at the Wiz. "Then a shopping cart comes along and steals the show."

He can rest easy. Booked by Citroen, the cart will be displayed outside their showrooms until September with a giant automobile ad on its front. Whether Chariopub can get new advertising for its normal-size carts remains to be seen. The supercart, however, is on a roll.

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