TELEPOPMUSIK find the perfect pitch for one of advertising's most trance-porting car commercials.

By Caroline Kepnes
December 13, 2002 at 05:00 AM EST

Remember when there was no escaping Barenaked Ladies’ ”One Week” for, like, months? You have Deutsch LA advertising to thank. As the creative team behind Mitsubishi’s ongoing ”Are You In?” campaign (which flipped that song into last year’s most famously flubbed sing-along), they’re responsible for scouring the world for such infectious tunes. ”We have to find the ones that [you] can listen to hundreds of times and not get sick of,” explains Deutsch senior VP Vinny Picardi. While it’s arguable that ”One Week” meets that criterion, Picardi & Co. made amends by digging up Dirty Vegas’ golden groove ”Days Go By” to promote the Mitsubishi Eclipse last March. Their track record improves yet again with their most recent pick, the hypnotizing 2002 trance anthem ”Breathe,” by French electronica trio Telepopmusik.

You know the commercial. The one where the guy sits behind the wheel of an Outlander SUV as his passengers change, reflecting the phases of his life from 18 to 34: bachelorhood, marriage, and, finally, fatherhood. Along for the ride, a female voice coos ”Just breathe…

Another day…” against a subtly bubbly backdrop that oozes mellow maturity. ”Usually, Mitsubishi wants a song that’s just get-up-and-dance,” says Picardi, who gets paid to take drives while listening to music under consideration. The work, he says, is in selling his personification of each car to the client. ”Mitsubishi wasn’t sure about ‘Breathe.’ But we explained that this car isn’t for 22-year-olds who don’t give a damn.”

Ironically, ”Breathe” was born out of a certain kind of reckless cool. Telepopmusik programmer and multi-instrumentalist Stephan Haeri explains how throaty Scottish chanteuse Angela McCluskey arrived at the wistful vocals: ”One day we were working in a very small room and we were all smoking all the time, cigarettes. As we are French, it is normal. And after a while, Angela couldn’t breathe anymore because there was too much smoke in the room, so she began to sing, ‘I just want to breathe.”’ Before long, McCluskey, who’d recently kicked the habit, was lighting up again (she’s since quit yet again).

Surgeon General’s warning aside, the tune-driven campaign has kept Mitsubishi rolling, with Outlander sales substantially exceeding expectations. The company may even sponsor a tour. Telepopmusik have played the car game before — Peugeot picked up ”Breathe” in France — and see it as just another way to get exposure. ”We began to ask ourselves, ‘Are we only making music for cars?”’ Haeri laughs. It’s a good question, since the band members aren’t auto buyers themselves. ”We don’t have any because in Paris it is not nice,” he says. ”Especially not a Mitsubishi, because they are really huge.”

Note to ad men: Don’t hyperventilate, just breathe.