John Cleese in TomTom's 'Break Free' campaign

John Cleese in TomTom's 'Break Free' campaign

Everybody loves John Cleese, right? Beyond his work on the popular Monty Python and Fawlty Towers TV shows -- not to mention many memorable film appearances -- he's written for stage and screen, and he's managed to inject some much-needed humor into the political climate of both the U.S. and Britain.

You can say many things about Cleese, but you can't say that  he's afraid to fail. And that's a very good thing, because his participation in TomTom's new "Break Free" campaign looks kind of a belly flop.

The concept behind "Break Free" is straightforward: it's all about drivers "breaking free" of traffic jams by using TomTom's satnav devices and live traffic data. At the center of the campaign sits Queen's chart-topping song "Break Free", which was licensed for the occasion. It's a catchy tune, and the idea of Cleese performing it is enough to make many people smile long before they see him do it.

In theory, this should work beautifully. Unfortunately, the writing of the "Break Free" ads seems a little forced, as do Cleese's various performances. Perhaps the "caraoke" competition -- in which TomTom fans submit clips of themselves singing "Break Free" in the hopes of winning a number of nifty prizes -- will fare better.

But then, maybe we're being too harsh. And even if we're spot-on, a man as prolific and hilarious as Cleese is entitled to a stinker now and then. He's earned it.

Check this sample clip -- which Cleese wrote as well as performed -- and let us know your thoughts. For more details, we've dropped in the press release below.

* * * * *

Monty Python Star John Cleese is the Holy Grail for TomTom's #BreakFree from Traffic Campaign

05.26.2011– TomTom announces "Break Free" – a campaign that aims to encourage people around the world to break free from traffic jams with TomTom's market-leading HD Traffic service.

Branded sketches exclusively written and performed for TomTom's Break Free campaign by comedy veteran John Cleese, will feature Cleese battling against the traumas of tedious traffic jams, encouraging consumers around the world to Break Free. Cleese is joined by other UK personalities including loveable Sky Sports presenter Chris Kamara and Radio 1's drive time DJ Scott Mills.

TomTom has acquired the rights to use the classic Queen song "I Want to Break Free" as the anthem for the whole campaign, and aims to encourage and reward frustrated drivers stuck in traffic to upload unique video renditions of the song to TomTom's Facebook pages.

TomTom hopes to inspire people to create and share their own Break Free videos via the Facebook page, Twitter and a Break Free iPhone app (coming soon), as part of a major competition with prizes including LIVE devices and top of the range Renault cars.

Sing, win and Break Free
A core part of "Break Free" is a 'caraoke' competition. Using an easy app for iPhone, or with their own video camera, people can record themselves singing "I Want to Break Free", and share it online. The most popular videos judged by an expert panel can win a Renault car.

Star in your own Break Free music video
"Break Free Yourself" is a Facebook tool that allows people to make and star in their own I Want to Break Free music video. People simply upload a photo, select whether they want to star as a glam rocker or Mexican mariachi and Facebook does the rest.

Trade In Promo
Customers can trade in their old satnav device and receive up to £30 or £50 off the latest TomTom device featuring HD Traffic. In Italy, customers will receive a Telepass Premium voucher worth up to €100.

To find out more about TomTom's Break Free campaign, and about its revolutionary HD Traffic service, visit

For further information about the videos and competitions, visit: 

[via Joel]