As French people have mostly integrated new digital user’s habits, brands are still haughtily devoted to a certain academicism.FFrench people like to see themselves connected and proud of it. According to a recent TNS-SOFRES study, French people belong to the top 3 of the world most fitted-out with digital devices. With 4,6 devices, French people are ranked just after the Swiss (4,7) and UK’s subjects of her majesty the Queen (4,8). French people are more connected than Americans, Germans, and even Japanese. When they are commuting, when they are at work or watching TV, French people surf on the Internet and day after day make the traditional media obsolete. Needless to say that even tourists in France have also adopted this ultra-connected lifestyle. It has become some kind of ordinary modernity which is little by little integrated into our infrastructures, even the innumerable startups that world’s top superpower countries envy us.
However, the more I observe the French digital marketing market, the more I believe French advertisers are hiding a shameful truth. French advertisers like others, their marketing strategies are paralyzed by an unbearable feebleness.
Today, advertisers are still willing to deal with some anachronistic agencies, where outdated advertising models are still used. These agencies are not the place where you will find “activation” gurus, nor the “Like” and engagement tycoon. These are the place – oh wait – the paradise where are produced TV ads remarkable by their fabulous scripts. It’s a very attractive world, a glimpse of French advertising from years ago that most of the French people are not desiring to see while slouched in their sofas anymore. Yet the reality remains different for most of the French brands.
The truth is, French advertisers with their connected cool brands appearance remain reluctant to “the digital era”. Those brands, happy to fill French consumers’ carts with their products seem to perfectly get their share anyway. Those same brands, symbol of what we call the “made in France” are disciples of restraint and safe ways.
What’s even more paradoxical is that France has got the domain renowned for being the most cutting edge : Luxury. All the asian tourists waiting in line in front of the flagship-stores give evidence of the everlasting attracting power of French luxury brands. But what about the shopper experience and customer relation on place ? France still rhymes with expensive pleasures across the world, yet France is loosing luxurious services. Exceptional wines, splendid hotels, designers clothe : France wont be able to keep its first place by denying consumers’ expectancies.
Even though the efficiency of digital marketing doesn’t need to be proved anymore – several indicators and KPI allow to measure each campaign’s profitability – advertisers are still reluctant to digital communication because it is perceived as avant-gardist, conformism prevail, digital communication becomes accessory. Maybe this is not as important at it seems. Consensus is part of the French lifestyle, whereas the most spectacular campaigns are made by Anglo-Saxons. Digital marketing doesn’t fit with French advertisers’ image of how advertising should be done. The best way to make the best of this contradiction may be to withstand in theory but benefitting from it when applied. So, you can invest in a tedious TV ad slogan as long as you don’t consider it as the future of creative advertising.
You can buy two weeks of a non stop radio spot, but there is no way you should reduce your communication budget to overcome the deceptive results of this campaign. Above all, it’s only up to you if you still want believe in the myth of the housewife stuck at her TV screen in a country where your remote control is no longer useful thank to smart TVs. Bloody advertisers.