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Openness to the World

Alexandra Clemence

This public television channel started off simply filling frequencies left by the
first French commercial television network, La Cinq. Although there was very little
actual programming, 1992 was the official start to Arte. Arte is a television network in
both France and Germany specializing in showing the culture and the arts through
programs such as documentaries, scripted series, live performances, art pieces and more.
For a short period of time, Arte only had evening programing, while other channels
occupied the frequencies during the daytime. There are three separate divisions that
make up Arte including; Arte France, Arte Deutschland, and the Strasbourg based
European Economic Interest Grouping Arte. Since the channel is split into these different
divisions, Arte France is located in Paris, France, Arte Deutschland in Baden-Baden,
Germany, and the headquarters are located in Strasbourg, France. The interesting thing
about Arte is that not only is it located in two different places, it is available in many
other places such as Belgium, Austria, Lebanon, Israel, the Netherlands, Portugal,
Switzerland, Poland, and many others. This vast variety of audiences is exactly what
makes this television channel so unique and they accentuate this quality with their
mission, their content, and the various procedures, like subtitling, they go through to
make it viewable to so many.

Arte strives to be different from other television channels in both France and
Germany by providing a cultural backbone to both locations. Arte was a game changer in the television industry when they introduced their multi-location station. “Creating a
chain for two public channels was a first in the history of television and remains a unique
phenomenon in the global media landscape”(Arte Group). Although first of its kind, Arte
has yet to become very popular with their audience. In January 2014, Arte was ranked
number ten of the most viewed channels in France, however did not make it onto the
chart in Germany. Arte is forced to adhere to certain standards due to them being a public
channel. For example, they are not allowed to advertise, but they can use sponsorships to
seek out revenue. This is a standard throughout all of France and also in most places
throughout the world. This ban on advertising on public television in France was passed
in 2009 by President Nicolas Sarkozy. He felt that many of the state-owned channels
were producing poor quality shows in order to get ratings.(BBC). Most of the budget for
Arte goes to the programming itself and it is equally funded by both Arte France and Arte
Deutschland. Arte France in particular, helps out the media industry by supporting and
contributing to independent producers by displaying their work on their channel and it
plays a significant role in the French and European audiovisual economy, or the sector of
the economy that focuses on creativity while supporting business innovation by
employing experts in many different departments, everywhere from program directors to
marketing (Communication Chambers). Although Arte may not be as popular as some
other channels, it thrives on sharing its content with viewers from all over the world.

When first researching this channel, one channel stuck out in particular as a good
comparison to Arte and their mission. That station is PBS and in a lot of ways they are
very similar with their operations, but they do have various differences. As mentioned
earlier, Arte is only allowed to receive funding through sponsorships, and they receive equal amounts of funding from sponsors in both France and Germany. Another part of
Arte’s operation system is their decision-making bodies. In each of their divisions, there
is a board of members that makes the final decisions when it comes to budgeting and
programming. After these members make the decisions, they are then sent to the main
headquarters to be approved. Due to Arte being viewed in different countries, their
operations take on additional tasks in order to connect to each audience. They do this in
two main ways. The first way is through differing their programs with subtitles, dubbing,
and even finding multi-lingual hosts so that anyone who watches these programs can
understand them. The other way they link their viewers is through their social media
presence. Arte is on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, and YouTube as well as social media
sites in France and Europe such as Daily Motion and RSS where they can upload
programs for all to view. Similar to Arte, PBS is a public channel that cannot
commercially advertise. “The PBS Foundation looks to transform public television into
an even stronger and more powerful institution by soliciting funding for PBS through
extraordinary gifts and grants”(The PBS Foundation). Basically, PBS relies more on
viewers, through things such as telethons, than large sponsors for their funding. PBS has
a very different way of running their decision-making bodies than Arte does. PBS has
something called local station autonomy where each of their member stations get to
decide on their programming so that it relates more to the audiences they are reaching.
This differs from Arte in that Arte shows most of their programs to all of their viewers
while PBS shows programs adhered to the viewers of that area, which is why Arte is
forced to take on the task of things like subtitling. Although there are obvious differences, the two stations are very similar in the way they operate as well as their mission and
vision for their channel.

The main similarity between Arte and PBS is their mission and how they strive to
portray it in their programming. Both channels are dedicated to exposing culture and
providing multiple perspectives in an effort to open up the minds of the viewers so that
they can reveal the world in a whole new way. Arte is unique in that their “mission is to
provide cultural programming that promotes unity and understanding throughout
European Nations” (The Arte Group). PBS is different in the fact that they cater more
towards their local audience instead of creating one big entity to connect the U.S. PBS is
more geared towards the educational side of programming while Arte focuses more on
the creative and independent aspect. “PBS invites everyone to explore new ideas and
broaden personal horizons-with content that expands the minds of children”(The PBS
Foundation). PBS focuses on being more family friendly with all of their programming
and Arte simply has specific programs for kids and some programming that is not
recommended for children to watch. For example, one of Arte’s short films on their
YouTube channel was titled “Sex Tape”, which was just as it sounds; a man and his wife
making a sex tape. This program would be more catered to late-night television if shown
in the U.S. because of the provocative content. Because Arte does not discriminate
against a lot of content permits the creators to express their creativity and focus on
showing the culture of France and Germany. The distinctive part of Arte is that they
spread their message and content even further by using social media so that the whole
world can experience their mission being portrayed through their programs. Arte places its values on “creativity, commitment, and an openness to the world”
and that is exactly what they portray in their programming (Arte Group). They allow
talented filmmakers as co-producers to express and experience their creativity so that
they can all connect through their culture. When they say “an openness to the world”,
they mean not restricting their creators and really giving their audience an opportunity to
see so much of the world through one single channel. I believe Arte is culturally vital to
France and Germany because it is one place where all cultures are celebrated and
displayed; the citizens gain an interest in the arts, music, film, and other cultural outlets.
Mostly, my research on Arte has opened my eyes and made me think that we need a
channel like this that connects multiple countries so that even if we aren’t fortunate
enough to visit that country, we can still immerse ourselves in their culture while relating
it to our own.

Works Cited
Arte Group. (2008. January 9). Arte Mission. Arte.tv. Retrieved February 3, 2014,
from http://www.arte.tv/fr/le-groupe-arte/2153580.html.
Broughton, Tom and Foster, Robin. “Creative UK: The Audiovisual Sector and
Economic Success”. Communications Chambers. Retrieved March 14, 2014,
from http://www.commcham.com/pubs/2011/4/27/creative-uk-the-
audiovisual-sector-and-economic-success.html
BBC News. (2009. January 5). “French TV ditches prime-time ads”. News.bbc.
Retrieved March 14, 2014, from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7812747.stm.
The PBS Foundation. About the PBS Foundation. PBS.org. Retrieved March 14, 2014,
from http://www.pbs.org/foundation

Agence France-Presse: Making History

Brenda McGrath

Agence France-Press (AFP) was born out of the world’s oldest international news agency.  In 1835, Charles Havas created the Havas Agency, the world’s very first international news agency.  It came from humble beginnings, starting out by using homing pigeons and trains to deliver news around France and other parts of Europe.  A decade later, it began to use telegraphs to spread news, which allowed the agency to begin to grow rapidly.  Its popularity spurred even further when new technology such as the telephone and radio allowed for faster news delivery, and by the late 1800s its network extended all the way to Saint Petersburg, Russia.  In 1940, the Havas Agency divided and separated its news branch from its advertising branch.  The news branch was called the French Information Office until August 20, 1944 when it was renamed Agence France-Press.  Its main headquarters remains in Paris, though it has 250 total bureaus, some located throughout France and others located in 150 different countries (“AFP in Dates” np).  As the world’s very first international news agency with reach in so many different areas worldwide, it is easy to see the influence of AFP in other international news agencies throughout the world today.

The AFP website defines the agency’s core values as truth, impartiality, and plurality.  The agency prides itself on being “free from political or commercial influence” (“AFP’s Values” np).  Furthermore, elaborating on the value of plurality, the website says “Much of what is reported deals with conflicts and a clash of ideas. Our duty is to present the positions of all parties involved, favouring none” (“AFP’s Values” np).  These stated values are very similar to the values of some other major international news agencies.  For example, the BBC website defines its values as being “independent, impartial and honest” (“Mission and Values” np).  Also, on the website of the American news agency Associated Press (AP), former general manager Melville Stone is quoted to say, “the thing it is striving for is a truthful, unbiased report of the world’s happenings” (“AP News Values & Principles” np).  While these values may seem rather basic and standard, the emphasis on unbiased or impartial reporting is important to note.  As the world’s first international news agency, if AFP had not set these standards of impartiality and honesty, it is possible that the standards for international news reporting could have turned out differently from how they are today.

Associated Press is one of the closest counterparts to AFP in the United States.  They are similar in many ways in addition to sharing many of the same values – the AP website even states that they started out delivering news by carrier pigeon, just as AFP did (“AP’s History” np).  However, the two agencies also differ in a multitude of ways.  One small difference is in the importance of speed versus accuracy.  AP’s website states, “AP reports history in urgent installments, always on deadline” to emphasize the fact that they always try to get stories to their readers as quickly as possible (“AP’s History” np).  In comparison, AFP’s website states that while speed in reporting stories is important to them, “speed must always remain secondary to truthful reporting, or the accuracy and reliability of information” (“AFP’s Values” np).  While AP also values accuracy, AFP specifically stating that accuracy is more important than speed demonstrates differences in the core beliefs of the two agencies.  Another difference between the two is the range of stories that are focused on.  On February 18 2014, the main stories being headlined on AP’s website were for the most part all relevant to US news, focusing on the Olympics, awards season, and a US nuclear weapons investigation.  This contrasts dramatically from AFP’s website on the same date, where there are stories covering Uganda, Tokyo, Syria, and many more areas, with only one small section focusing on the Olympics and only one story relating to France.  This wide range of stories demonstrates that AFP’s primary focus is what is happening everywhere in the world, not on what is relevant to their own country.

One particularly unique aspect of AFP is its use of technology to provide media reports digitally and socially.  In addition to having a free mobile app, they have a Twitter feed and a Facebook page that are both constantly updated with links to new stories.  They also have a YouTube page where they frequently post video news reports.  They print their stories in six different languages – French, English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, and Arabic – and have a separate web page for each one.  However, AFP moves beyond the basics of social media reporting to more innovative methods of digital reporting.  The “Projects” page of their website lists all of the new digital media projects AFP is currently working on.  One of their biggest new projects is called GLOCAL, which is an interface intended to classify stories according to the ‘who, what, where, and when’ of an event to allow readers to search and navigate through stories quickly (“GLOCAL” np).  Another one of their projects is called OTMedia, also called the Observatory Project, which is intended to “develop processes, tools and methods to better understand the challenges and changes in the media sphere” (“OTMedia” np).  These projects demonstrate how AFP adapts quickly to the changing media world and the importance they place on innovation in digital media.

Thus, as the world’s oldest international news agency, AFP fulfills its role to serve international news not only to France, but to the whole world.  With bureaus in 150 different countries and stories written in six different languages, they are able to provide a wide range of reporting that appeals to people all around the world.  They seem to successfully uphold their stated values of truth, impartiality, and plurality with unbiased, accurate stories.  Their innovation in digital and social media allow their audience to have easy accessibility to their stories online and on the go with mobile apps.  Overall, it seems that as the world’s first international news agency, Agence France-Presse has set a high standard for how international news reporting should be done.

Works Cited
“AFP in Dates.” AFP.com. AFP, n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2014. <http://www.afp.com/en/agency/afp-history/>.
“AFP’s Values.” AFP.com. AFP, n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2014. <http://www.afp.com/en/agency/ethics/>.
“AP’s History.” Associated Press. AP, n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2014. <http://www.ap.org/company/history/ap-history>.
“AP News Values & Principles.” Associated Press. AP, n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2014.            <http://www.ap.org/company/news-values>.
“GLOCAL.” AFP.com. AFP, n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2014.   <http://www.afp.com/en/innovation/projects/glocal>.
“Mission and Values.” BBC News. BBC, 3 Sept. 2013. Web. 16 Feb. 2014.        <http://www.bbc.co.uk/aboutthebbc/insidethebbc/whoweare/mission_and_values/>.
“OTMedia.” AFP.com. AFP, n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2014.   <http://www.afp.com/en/innovation/projects/otmedia>.

Suite 101: Where Magazine Meets Blog & Wikipedia Meets Journalism

Corinne Volosky

            In 1996, a group of Canadian writers came together to create Suite101, a site dedicated to providing Internet readers a place for expert advice on a variety of topics. This type of collective writing idea is not an uncommon phenomenon in history, from gathering of the 1920s “The Lost Generation” writers creating works that society still finds applicable today or simply just a group of college student writers brainstorming back and forth over a few beers.  Local writers in Vancouver found their collective place to share their advice and their bylines with anyone who wanted to learn new information; it was the beginning of a blogging online magazine.

After about 10 years of local publication, the site had about 4 million monthly visitors but still was not bringing in much revenue. The site’s large audience, however, caught the attention of German investors Boris Wertz, an Internet investor, and Burda Digital Ventures, a German media company, who bought shares of the company in 2005 and 2006. The site also got revamped with a new CEO, Peter Berger, in 2006 (Andrews 1-2). After a few successful, revenue-generating years, the company branched out to Europe in 2008 with a site in the German language (suite101.de), but was still based in Vancouver. In 2009, Suite101 was looking to branch out internationally and set up offices in Paris and Madrid, birthing the sites Suite101.fr and Suite101.net (Teicher), giving Suite101 just about 17 million monthly visitors between all sites.

The set up of the sites are modern looking with big top header graphics and then streamlined stories underneath; it resembles a blog layout with multiple, specific topics. Like the Spanish and German Suite101 sites, Suite101.fr stories are broken into categories:

Mode & Tendances – Santé & Médecine – Sciences & Technologies – Voyages & Découvertes – Auto-Moto – Beauté & Bien-Être – Cuisine & Saveurs – Culture – Économie & Finances – Éducation & Carrière – Environnement – Famille & Relations – Conso/High Tech – Histoire – Loisirs & Sorties – Maison & Décoration – Nature & Animaux – Politique Société & Médias – Religions & Ésotérisme – Sports

With such a vast amount of categories, stories can be extremely specific to a topic. The writing tone of the stories is more blog-like and respectively informal, as many of the posts are the opinions of the selected freelance writers that are commissioned to write the pieces. There are only 3-staffed employees and approximately 10 paid freelance editors and writers (Couve). According to former editor-in-chief Joy Gugeler, Suite101 has “the intention to give well-researched advice, but it’s educated opinion that is sourced journalistically. There is a high level of accountability” (Andrews 1-2). Because of this trust in the writers, the educated, opinion-based stories are treated more like blog posts, where there does not need to be formal citations to information that is mentioned in the article. This is most apparent by looking at the ends of articles; some include “Compléments d’information” with links underneath, while others do not. Suite101’s editors believe that the site stands out against Wikipedia, for even without the sources at the end of articles, there is still reliability to the story because there is a byline and accountability of the person that writes it.

Specifically in France, Suite101 is still trying to find its bearings in the Suite101 family. All of the Suite101 sites’ revenue comes from advertising, which is used to pay the writers, so many of the French Internet users are concerned that the topics covered and the articles written are too driven by advertising keywords and by also stories that are “timeless” and more feature-like in nature that can be found easily in the archives, making them more profitable over time (Couve). Although not a direct news source, some audiences come to read the editorial pieces like they are a news source, or they come to read material as follow-up articles. They often become unhappy to find profit driven how-to articles, and it becomes challenging for the site to keep users coming back. This is also a problem that is happening in America with news sources like CNN posting full spreads of Miley Cyrus and her VMA performance and not relevant news. The balance of profit and newsworthiness is a challenge for both national outlets.

The United States does not have a revenue-generating blog/magazine site like Suite101. The only comparable American sites are Medium, Wikipedia and About.com, and counterpart blogs or editorial sections of major news organizations. Medium is probably the closest comparison of them all. Medium is a blog-sharing site where anyone with an account (which is free) can post about whatever topic they want. Although the sites look almost identical in layout, Suite101.fr and Medium differ because Suite101 is a small group of writers with the occasional opening for other invited writers, while anyone can post on Medium. Also because Medium is so open to whoever wants to write a piece, the majority of posts are not pertinent to news or trends; for example “Don’t date a girl who travels” or “How I Lost My $50,000 Twitter Username” are titles of posts. Medium is more of a public journal, while Suite101 is a database of public opinion by a select few of individuals.

Although there are not many comparisons of Suite101 in the United States, the foreign Suite101 sites are vastly different from the original Canadian Suite101. There is more explanation of what the site is on Suite101.com compared to Suite101.fr, as well as more attractive layouts to break up the categories of posts called “Suites.” Also, Suite101.com has opened its doors for anyone to write posts. There are still only a select number of writers that are shown in the Suites on the Explore page, but it is more interactive for users, like Medium in the United States.

Both the Canadian and French Suite101 organizations do not have the best social media presence or efforts. The Canadian Suite101 has about 13,200 likes on Facebook and 4,300 followers on Twitter, but hasn’t made a post on Facebook since March 2013 or on Twitter since December 2013. The French Suite101 is even worse; almost 2,600 likes on Facebook and about 430 followers on Twitter; no posts since March 2013 and June 2013. Social media does not seem as big of an issue for this organization as it does for companies and organizations in the United States. A possible explanation for this could be because the social media strategy used in the United States treats brand communication as a public affair; it is part of the commercialization for everyone to see feedback, whether it is good or bad. French brands do not seem to have that same strategy implemented into their present day system of public communication, which seems logical because they are not as commercialized as American marketing.

The Suite101 sites serve their audiences for what their purposes are: to be a secondary, editorial source to news and trends around the world. The French site was created with the intent of giving more specific editorial information to the Parisian audience, who focus more on beauty and fashion. However, the Suite101 staff needs to look into ways to satisfy their audiences better without being too driven by revenue and profit. A simple solution to this is to just keep advertising and writing separate; place ads on the side and categorize them by related topics. If the article is a beauty product how-to, they can put a beauty product ad on the side. Luckily, Suite101 does not have much other competition because it is one of the first of its kind to be a strictly opinion-based blogging news source. It is a concept that seems to be welcomed by millions of monthly users. It may even be a new type of journalism site to look out for world wide in the next coming years.

Works Cited
Andrews, Marke. “Vancouver’s Suite101.com faces stiff new competition.” Vancouver Sun. 05 Aug. 2008: 1-2. Web. 15 Feb. 2014.
Couve, Philippe. “Suite101 : des articles rémunérés selon leur performance publicitaire.”Journaliste & Entrepreneur. 14 Sept. 2010: n. page. Web. 18 Feb. 2014. <http://www.journaliste-entrepreneur.com/2010/09/suite101-des-articles-remuneres-selon-leur-performance-publicitaire/>.
Teicher, Craig. “Canada’s Suite101 Writers Profit, Expanding to France, Spain.” Publishing Perspectives. 14 Jul 2009: n. page. Web. 15 Feb. 2014. Websites Referenced:
Medium. Web. 16 Feb. 2014. <www.medium.com>.
Suite101 France. Web. 16 Feb. 2014. <www.suite101.fr>.
 Suite101. Web. 16 Feb. 2014. <www.suite101.com>.
 

The Life and Times of Paris Match Magazine

Emily Bastaroli

As a popular news and current events magazine targeting the French middle class, Paris Match features stories on public affairs; profiles and interviews of government officials and celebrities (Encyclopedia Britannica). France’s weekly pictorial publication Paris Match began in 1934 as a sports magazine and republished in 1949 as the successor to L’Illustration.  The magazine also has stories on entertainment, fashion and consumer products and was compared to Life magazine when it was in print.  Recent stories include pieces on Prince Amedeo’s engagement, a plane being hijacked in Switzerland and former president Jacques Chirac’s hospital visit. Jean Prouvost, publisher of the daily Le Figaro, led Paris Match to its high standard and financial success. Prouvost owned the magazine until the early 21st century when it was sold to the French conglomerate Lagardère and is now one of the most widely circulated magazines in France. Paris Match has come a long way since its beginnings, and has developed its publication to reach a wide audience through its different sections; and though it has had its ups and downs, it has overcome them and is still widely read in France and around the world.

Comparable to America’s People magazine, Paris Match publishes articles in categories including news, people (sightings, sports, music, politics, and movies), culture (movies, books, music, etc.), and royalty. Most of the articles under “People” are about French, American and international celebrities. Some recent articles include an interview with John Travolta on the death of his son; Katy Perry being crowned Woman of the Year at Elle’s Style Awards in London; and Leighten Meester and Adam’s Brody’s secret wedding. The politics section includes stories on Michelle Obama’s advice to Justin Bieber’s mom, and a piece on Silvio Berlusconi’s divorce; and Arnaud Montebourg and Zylberstein’s love story. The culture page features a story on the real faces of Daft Punk, written in something reminiscent of a Rolling Stone article; reviews of French and foreign films; and a section on the Cannes Film Festival. There is also a Royal Blog on the magazine’s website, covering the news of French, United Kingdom, Monaco and worldwide royalty. Paris Match recently published a piece called “A Secret Day with William and Harry” – if that is translated correctly – about the royal brothers helping soldiers fight against some flooding in Windsor, U.K.

As any publication, Paris Match has had its fair share of criticisms and ordeals. In 1997 magician David Copperfield sued Paris Match for publishing an article stating his relationship with and engagement to model Claudia Schiffer was fake. The magazine published a “contract between Copperfield’s German promoter and Schiffer that showed the model was paid $20,000 for attending the 1993 show where the two met,” stated an article on the situation in Time magazine, published in August of 1997. Paris Match then claimed Schiffer was paid to pretend to be the magician’s fiancé despite the fact she doesn’t like him, and he sued for $30 million (Luscombe). Then in September of that same year, lawsuits were filed against Paris Match and other French weeklies and two photography agencies. The al-Fayed family claimed the “paparazzi contributed to the death of Diana, Princess of Wales and Emad Mohamed ‘Dodi’ al-Fayed on August 31, 1997,” according to an article published in the Wall Street Journal – Eastern Edition.

In 2006, journalists at Paris Match demanded a guarantee of editorial independence after claiming the editor was forced to leave after publishing a controversial cover photo of then interior minister and president hopeful Nicolas Sarkozy’s wife Cecilia with a “male companion” (Jones). While the French press is typically opposed to exposing and examining private lives of its public figures, Sarkozy’s marriage was often the subject of concern in the domestic media. After this cover was published, the editor Alain Genestar was under pressure “for political reasons.” At that time other French publications including Liberation and L’Humanite, were struggling and under pressure (Jones). Genestar was eventually fired.

Since then, Paris Match has fought through its struggles and is now one of the most widely circulated magazines in France. Its similarities to People magazine make it easy for American and non-French speakers to understand. Most of the pieces on the website are short and to the point without going into unnecessary details.

Overall, the success of Paris Match is well-deserved because it appeals to different readers, attempting to reach all aspects of life and interests: music, politics, movies and television, celebrities and news. However, its readership has decreased in recent years, according to Bloomberg Business. Its only real problem –in order to keep up with the competition and gain and maintain readership – is that it seems to be delving too much into the lives of political figures, something that the French press had never really done before. As of January 2014, its readership was 651,700, down from 708,200 five years ago. However, these numbers are still better than its competition, Closer, whose readership has decreased by nearly half within one year. Perhaps if Paris Match would focus more on its culture sections, they would be more successful because French culture is so rich and unique, especially when it comes to fashion and art.

Works Cited
“Al-Fayed family files suits against weeklies, agencies.” Wall Street Journal – Eastern Edition                  10 Sept. 1997: B5. Academic Search Complete. Web. 19 Feb. 2014.
Jones, Adam. “Paris Match in Sarkozy furore.” Financial Times – London Edition 27 June 2006: 8. Lexis Nexis. 13 Feb. 2014.
Luscombe, Belinda. “Copperfield V. Paris Match.” Time 150.5 (1997): 74. Academic Search                    Complete. Web. 19 Feb. 2014.
Matlack, Carol. “Why the French President’s Private Life Is Getting a Lot Less Private.”                         Bloomberg Business Week. Bloomberg, 10 Jan. 2014. Web. 19 Feb. 2014.
“Paris Match (French Magazine).” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica,                  2014. Web. 17 Feb. 2014.
 

BETC Paris

Creative French Advertising

Emily Kolek

BETC Paris describes themselves as a “creative hive.”  Owned by Havas Worldwide, BETC Paris (BETC) was established only 17 years ago in Paris, France where it found its home in the 10th arrondissement.  BETC also has an office in London, England and most recently they just announced that the company will open up shop in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  The largest agency in the French market, BETC is perhaps the most creative agency in France.

Though the creators of BETC were not aware of this at the time, the building that they chose as BETC’s home in France offers some heavy history.  During WWII, Jewish prisoners were held and forced to work manual labor before being sent to concentration camps (Pic). Once BETC was made aware of what once occurred in their industrial-like, beautifully reconstructed building the company placed a plaque in front of the building in memory and honor of the deported Jews (Pic).  In addition to the building, the actual location in the 10th arrondissement is rather significant.  It makes sense for a young agency that is full of creativity and excitement to be housed in what could be considered an up-and-coming neighborhood.  The 10th arrondissement, once a run-down industrial part of town, witnessed a rebirth about 15 years ago and is still growing as new bars, galleries and cafes open bringing in the young and curious personalities.  In fact, the New York Times listed the 10th arrondissement as the neighborhood to visit while in France (Lobrano).

BETC’s client list is full of international companies, big businesses, non-profits and startups such as: AirFrance, Lacoste, Evian, McDonland’s, Canal+, NPNS (women’s rights organization) and hellomerci.com.  The work they do for their clients is vast and award winning.  In 2012 BETC’s client, Canal+ won three top advertising awards from the prestigious Art Directors Club in the global competition.   When looking at their work it is clear that BETC commits its entire self to the project and business they are working for.  BETC wants to be a part of people’s conversations and pop culture.  Their work does just that.  Trying to balance art and business, BETC creates creative campaigns to ignite a conversation with the intentions of it becoming pop culture.  For example, their AirFrance commercial made one think about flying in a completely different way.  The imagery and sound made flying a beautiful piece of art that one wanted to be part of – a part of the sky.  Furthermore, a commercial they created for Evian was well received and became quite popular, logging over 170 million views on YouTube.

Adding to their creativity is BETC’s Startup Lab where they believe in “Making the World of Tomorrow Happen Stronger – Faster – Sooner.”  A division of BETC, Startup Lab focuses on small startup companies who need help telling the world who they are.  With a staff of its own, BETC Startup Lab believes that there is an exciting new entrepreneurial era about to be born and they want to be a part of it.  They want to help new businesses build their brand and identity.  Having a designated group of individuals whose focus is primarily on startup clients is perhaps a unique characteristic to French advertising.  Compared to other French agencies, such specific services are not available.  Today it appears to be the norm to work with non-profits, both in the U.S and France; however, specifically working with startups is rather exclusive.

BETC knows who they are and who they want to be.  As a French business they understand and cultivate the French culture in the work that they do.  Holding true to French values and culture is pertinent. BETC uses that knowledge to its advantage.  During a financial crisis in France, many French brands moved their manufacturing abroad to alleviate costs.  Le Slip France, a high-quality underwear company, chose to stay in France and BETC used their loyalty in the commercial they created for the company.  The commercial states that Slip X, a generic brand that is manufactured abroad, had a lower quality than le Slip Francais which is designed and manufactured in France.  Furthermore, BETC Paris understands what it is like to be a stereotypical Parisian – rude, annoyed and loud.  Though this stereotype may not hold true for all Parisians, they used the stereotype in a commercial for le Parisian, a daily newspaper available in Paris, where it is “better to read one than meet one.”  In other words, one is better off reading the Parisian than meeting a Parisian because of how rude they are.  This is a solid example of BETC understanding their client and what the world, in this case, Paris, thinks about their client.

European advertising features exuality more frequently than what may be seen in the United States.  The French advertising industry is no exception and continues to use sex to sale their campaigns.  Due to recent complaints regarding the overuse of sex, changes have been made to the French self-regulatory system (Boddeewyn & Loubrdou 220).  In their article, researchers Boddewyn and Loubrdou discussed these changes and briefly described the similarities and differences between American advertising and French advertising.  They are as follows:

  1. French advertising focuses on preserving the dignity and discrimination of all human beings while American advertising focuses on protecting the dignity and discrimination of minors.
  2. Politically weaker and less affluent United States consumer organizations have little influence on the government while French consumer groups have a large influence on the government and their thoughts on advertising.
  3. The government is the leading control of advertising regulation in both the U.S. while self-regulation is also quite popular.
  4. U.S. government agencies like the Federal Trade Commission have limited the amount of profane and indecent materials in the media.  The French government does not necessarily have such agencies to report to.
  5. Both French and American advertisers appreciate and prefer industry rules that are created by them – the industry.  They believe that they know how to solve their own problems and would appreciate the opportunity to do so without the government or government agencies stepping in.
  6. France and the United States share the same concerns about sex in the media.  They do not want to contribute to the desensitization of people and the negative behavior towards women (223-224).

Additionally, by observing their website content, I found that BETC honors similar values as their U.S. counterparts like believing that their employees are invaluable.  The people who make up the agency are key to agency success.  Through personal experience, I have found that more often than not American agencies put great value on their employees, understanding that the employees bring the creativity and life to the agency which essentially leads to clients’ successes.  BETC shares these same views.

BETC Paris does not consider itself to be an average advertising agency, its modern campaigns and business practices all add to its unique style and creativity.  BETC works to be a competitive force in the industry, just releasing a new campaign during the 2014 Winter Olympics for fashion retailer Lacoste.  Not only was the commercial’s sound and music mesmerizing, it was launched at the 2014 Olympics.  If BETC continues to release creative advertising similar to the work they have completed for AirFrance, Evian and Canal+ and build upon its Startup Lab, BETC could grow into a bigger creative force impressing not only its clients but impacting pop culture, both nationally and abroad.

 Works Cited
Boddewyn, Jean J, and Esther Loubradou. “The Control Of ‘Sex In Advertising’ In France.” Journal Of Public Policy & Marketing30.2 (2011): 220-225. Communication & Mass Media Complete. Web. 19 Feb. 2014.
Lobrano, Alexander. “A Paris Quartier Surges.” NewYorkTimes.com. The New York Times Company, n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2014.
Pic, Floriane. “Agency Profile: BETC Paris.” Ihaveanidea.com. I Have an Idea, Inc., 25 June 2012. Web. 17 Feb. 2014
 
 
 

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