Should America take advertising cues from the French?

A few months ago, I visited Belgium and France. I was born and raised in that part of the world, so my trip was a mix of personal and pleasure. During my stay, I was reminded of how shocking and powerful advertising can be in Europe compared to the States.
French agencies are bold and quite fearless. They’re not afraid to use sex, violence and innuendo to broadcast their client’s uniqueness. In fact, these tactics sell products best there.

I admire the unrestraint of the French—their unbothered attitude, their love for life, art, and food—oh, how I miss the food! These attributes of the culture are translated into French consumerism.

Don’t get me wrong, some of the best advertising in the world comes from the U.S., but there’s something about French advertising that often seems more powerful and creative. I think this is because brands and agencies in the U.S. are often slowed down by the need to please everyone, in effect, stifling creativity.

Brands are less apt to take risk in the U.S. compared to France—for good reason. Maybe our society just isn’t ready for the boldness yet. Living advertising legend Luke Sullivan said, “We are culture tweakers… We ride the waves and currents of popular culture… We play in popular thought.” This couldn’t be truer. As advertising professionals, we need to tap into the mindset of our consumer and understand their wants and needs—and also their limits. We need to be great listeners and answer with advertising that speaks to them.

Okay, so back to France. I want to go over some of the great ads that I saw while I was there. These examples capture everything that’s great about French advertising—seduction, shock, drama, and entertainment; head turning images and provocative headlines tell it like it is. I hope you enjoy this collection!

The first ad I saw was at the Brussels airport. It is quite provocative… I don’t think we would ever see this at the Orlando International Airport:

I saw this commercial in France. It’s about drinking and driving. This commercial was played so many times on so many channels. Is it shocking or eye opening? Both? What would be the reaction if played on prime time here in the States?

Billboard I saw in France featuring a very famous French anorexic model:


This is an amazing and shocking ad featuring a famous model with a missing arm. The headline translates to: “Look into my eyes… I said my eyesSo that disability is no longer a handicap.”


What about this ad for United Colors of Benetton that I have seen many versions of during my trip?


French AIDS Prevention. The headline reads “Aids Makes Us Equal.” So powerful!


Could you ever imagine McDonald’s running an LGBT television commercial here in the United States? Maybe—just maybe—they’d run it in a targeted LGBT publication, but this commercial was running on prime time TV in France.

I hope you enjoyed this collection of French advertising. There’s more to come! So what do you think? Will we ever get to this high level of shock and acceptance here in the U.S.? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Written by, Carine Carmack  – BIGEYE Creative, Art Director


Attire in the workplace: To suit up or not to suit up

One of the many benefits of employment in the Florida advertising industry (post “Mad Men” era) is that “casual Fridays” apply to nearly every day of the week—as long as clients aren’t scheduled for meetings or visiting the office. Coming from a previous work environment where suits were the norm, this was an adjustment for me, but one that didn’t take very long to settle into. I found that being comfortable in your work environment actually does wonders for productivity. I actually feel that we work harder and better in less “stuffy” clothing.
Just look at other successful companies out there today, like Facebook and Google. These Fortune 500 companies embrace comfortable, casual attire. When you’re comfortable, you’re more relaxed and more open to new ideas, creativity, and innovation. It’s a win-win for employer and employee.

However, there is a time and a place for business attire. I was once told by one of my mentors in the industry that when dressing for meetings, one should dress in attire that embodies the “feel” of the client or their industry. For example, if you’re meeting with an upscale law office, professional dress would be expected. But if meeting with an artist, jeans and a blouse are appropriate.

Either way, my advice would always be to put your best foot forward when meeting clients and business associates. Just think about it—You wouldn’t show up to a wedding in jeans and a t-shirt (well – most weddings), or a graduation ceremony in board shorts and a tank. So why risk showing up to a business meeting in a sundress and sandals only to learn you’re the most casual one in the room? There goes your credibility… and your confidence!

Ultimately you’ll only look as good as you feel. No matter what you’re wearing, there’s nothing worse than constantly tugging or messing with your clothes while in a meeting, whether it’s casual or not. Make sure your attire fits and is comfortable. Self-confidence is more visible to others than you might think!

I truly appreciate the casual dress code in the advertising industry, but I firmly believe, regardless of your trade, that if you want to make the best impression and represent your company in the highest of lights, business attire is a sure bet. Save the jeans and t-shirts for those days when you know you’ll only be seen by your coworkers or when pulling an all-nighter at the office.

What do you think about casual office attire in the advertising industry? Share your thoughts below.

Written by, Sandra Wilson –Account Manager at BIGEYE Creative