Skip to comments.We French are pathetic losers, says ad chief
Posted on 07/30/2005 6:32:43 PM PDT by saquin
The President of one of the world's biggest advertising agencies has issued a damning state-of-the-nation assessment that describes France as being in steep decline and his countrymen as "narrowed and stunted".
Maurice Lévy, the head of the media giant Publicis, whose company owns Saatchi and Saatchi and has offices in 100 countries across six continents, said France had failed to get the 2012 Olympics because the world now saw it as a nation of perdants - "losers".
For good measure, he described the 35-hour week as "absurd" and the wails of complaint that followed Paris's loss of the Games to London as "pathetic".
His forthright critique was published in the opinion section on the front page of the respected daily newspaper Le Monde.
It was in stark contrast to the slick advertising campaigns dreamed up by Publicis to promote its international clients, which include BMW, Renault, Coca-Cola, L'Oréal, and Club Med. Such campaigns helped earn the company net profits of 130 million euros (£90 million) for the first six months of this year.
Yet Mr Lévy, 63, told The Sunday Telegraph that he stood by every word of his criticism and had received scores of messages of support.
"What I wrote was hard, but true. France is not in a crisis, it's worse than that. A crisis is usually sudden and short, while we are in an endemic situation," he said. "I've just had enough and wanted to say what I felt."
In the article, Mr Lévy said the French had only themselves to blame for losing the Olympics, and that the country needed a wake-up call. "We have narrowed and stunted ourselves and we paint ourselves as losers, and no one wants to be among the losers. It's time we opened our eyes wide, took an icy shower and looked reality in the face: we are in decline, going down a slippery slope.
"The Ministry of Economy, Finance and Industry has reminded us of our [public] debt and the fact that we are living beyond our means. We knew the figures, yet no government for the last 20 years has wanted to draw a conclusion from them. The figures that attest to our decline are known to all."
He said that unemployment, at more than 10 per cent, was a "cancer that gnawed at our society", complaining that companies had lost their competitiveness and that job creation had broken down.
"In the global economy we give the impression of being a Gaulois village, but unlike those in Astérix, it doesn't make us laugh and it will raise even less of a smile among our children and grandchildren in 20 years' time," he said.
"The general gloom is based on the idea that nothing can be done and nobody seems to have a solution. In fact our politicians have long played fathers of the nation, protecting their flock and hoping to save we the children from crises. It's praiseworthy and generous. Thank you. But it doesn't prepare us for the harsh realities of life.
"Remember the day after the first petrol shock, when the Dutch took to their bicycles to save petrol while our good president explained to us that we could (and deserved to) set off in our cars for our weekends away.
"Later, when it was necessary, alas, to make redundancies, the compensation was set at 90 per cent, therefore allowing those made redundant to earn yet more without working. Why in that case, make any effort to find a job? In doing this, trying to avoid any difficulties for them, we have turned the French into children.
"The final straw has to be the absurd decision to introduce the 35-hour working week when we were told repeatedly that we could work less and earn more. How on earth in this context can we expect the same French people to accept necessary reforms?"
Mr Lévy concluded that it would take a brave person to introduce the necessary changes, someone who would put his country first. "Is there a politician capable of overcoming their own ambitions in the cause of a certain idea of France?"
In an interview last week at his office on the Champs Elysées, he said his article had received acclaim from across the political spectrum. "I've had a lot of calls from politicians, business leaders, economists and journalists from the Left and Right of the political spectrum who support what I wrote," he said.
"I'm optimistic by nature. One day we will have to wake up, and in the end things will have to change."
We Americans quite agree, says Marty Fierro.
Yeah, that was rather non-Eurocentric of him to say.
"Is there a politician capable of overcoming their own ambitions in the cause of a certain idea of France?"
Osama Bin Laden?
Wow, a French writer where it isn't America's fault...
This guy is an idiot. Losing the Olympics is the least of their problems. He is as stupid as the rest of the government. The only reason the Olympics mattered to them is because of the high profile, international publicity aspect. The French problems run much deeper than anything that could be resurrected by some positive PR generated by the Olympics.
And it's not like they haven't had any practice.
Damn, even the French don't like the French.
Maurice Lévy is my new hero.
France hit rock bpttom when in an attempt to boost French Tourism it hired pedophile Wood Allen to do promo spots 'Fall in love again"
Bush will be lookin for work in 2009. :o)
PS....Take THAT, Krugman!
Boy, Krugman has the gift of timing, doesn't he? With luck, the Times with get an Op-Ed from this froggy and then give Kruggie a much-deserved heave-ho.
But, he leaves out the positive point; the Germans can occupy them again and take care of everything. The Germans won't allow all the dog s**t all over Paris; they'll want a clean city.
You're certainly right about the conditions in France, but I doubt the IOC has your insight. You give the IOC too much credit, I think. I imagine they are as clueless as the UN about most things.
If anything I would think that the IOC was worried that the French may not let the athletes shower after their events and would force everyone to "go French".
Recognizing the problem is half the battle. Unfortunately, the other half requires actions that don't include gallic whining, throwing franco style hissy fits and waving trendy white silk flags at the first sign of difficulty. In other words, the French are and always have been a pathetic, faux superpower.
Yeah, I read that Krugman column today.
You'd think that he'd swerve into the truth just once in a while. It's amazing how one man can be so consistantly wrong about everything.
By 2012 the French will be running massive deficits. They will would want a global tax to pay for the new sports venues that would have to built.
Did you read the whole article? He talked about other problems and faults and things besides the French losing the Olympics. He wasn't just talking about France having a PR campaign.
A friend recently suggested that we take a river cruise through France, and I said that I'm boycotting France. I wouldn't go there if the trip were free. I hope their tourism is way down.