Monday, March 12, 2007

No Ads, but Candidates are advertising

Reuters is running an article that examines the heavy use of ad agencies by both the Sarkozy and Royal camps. Because of strong election rules against political advertising, you get none of the TV wars that occur in the United States, but that puts an even greater premium on normal campaign appearances and interviews, which are the only ways for a candidate to get through the media to the voters.

Interior Minister Sarkozy is surrounded by a team dubbed "The Firm" in tribute to the ruthless operators in the John Grisham thriller. Socialist Royal has a director of Ogilvy & Mather, France's fifth ad agency, on her side.
(...) His team has attacked the problem of how to present the tough-talking Sarkozy as a force for renewal without scaring voters and without openly criticizing his own government with the slogan "la rupture tranquille" (A calm break).

Royal, a regional leader and the first woman with a serious chance of winning the French presidency, has deliberately taken an almost amateur approach, based on meetings with ordinary voters and her camp dismisses talk of slick advertising.
(...) she has meetings once or twice a week with Natalie Rastoin, general director of Ogilvy & Mather, who provides polling advice and help with Royal's Web site "Desirs d'Avenir."

Perhaps taking their roles to the extreme, the advertising officials interviewed for the article all criticisized the rival candidate's message.

"Sarkozy's camp is doing the advertising campaign of the 1980s. Take their 'rupture tranquille' idea, it's totally copied on the 'force tranquille'. Mitterrand must be laughing in his grave.

"Segolene is as communication savvy as Nicolas. She manages her image better than anybody, but it's the image without the sound."

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