Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Rebecca Leffler, French Correspondent

Rebecca with Polanski at Le Film Francais’ Trophees awards

Thanks to our guest Rebecca Leffler!
See Rebecca's blog here
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French Sports & Tourism Media

Sports and tourism come together above and below in ads for SouthWest France also know as Aquataine. The ads are in English targeting the widest possible tourism.

Above are the major media forms in European sports. In France, sports emphasize soccer throughout the year, the Tour de France in summer, Roland Garros in summer and skiing in winter. France invented tennis with the game "jeu de paume."

Below cycling has a French origin as well, dating back to the 1860's. Images below show the intense media coverage of the event.

Below Formula One has an enormous media following of 600 million viewers over the year. France no longer hosts races but participates.

Sports and travel share a combined active/passive use of leisure time.

Below, French travel has a post-colonial affinity for Northern Africa. Morocco was an especially popular location for French and Europeans in the 1960's, below Yves Saint Laurent.

La Vallee (1972) is a film by Barbet Schroeder that explores the idea of French post-colonial travel.

Les Bronzes in 1978 & 79 offered a comedic take on French vacation culture with package vacations like Club Med.

Below the Club Med ad created by Saatchi & Saatchi in 2002 referenced its sexy 1970's past.

Below tourism is at its best when unified for a nation. But promoting a nation is not so simple, according to Wally Ollins and his "Nation Branding" media strategies.

The nation promotions below show the green trend for Ireland and Portugal.

The Eurostar is a transnational alliance that promoted by France & the UK in its ads.

Renault's recent campaign "Get There Faster," promotes European care travel by featuring landmark destinations.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Dominique Marchetti: The Changing Organization of the Tour de France and its Media Coverage

by: Shireen Cohen

The article was written in 2003 as part of the International Journal of the History of Sport. It discusses the nature of the Tour de France and how it adapted to different changes in media. It is an interview with former cyclist and journalist Jean-Marie LeBlanc.

Jean-Marie LeBlanc

LeBlanc begins by discussing what the Tour de France was like before radio and television coverage, when people relied mostly on the accounts of journalists for coverage of the race. He suggests that the accounts of the journalists may have been exaggerated and romanced. He continues to say there were three golden periods for the Tour, which were the introduction of three big phenomenons: text and photo, live commentary on the radio and television.

Television was pivotal to the Tour because it allowed for the Tour to also become an outlet to show the various landscapes and regions of France, which would be beneficial for tourism purposes. The coverage featured chateaus, bridges, cathedrals and more in the backdrop. Furthermore, television allowed for viewers to have some sort of emotional connection with the Tour. For example, when viewers see the cyclists splashing water on themselves to try and beat the heat or pushing themselves to cycle faster in the wet rain they feel some sort of empathy for the cyclists. Today, media coverage of the event has become much more advanced, thanks in part to the progress of technology. Today, coverage of the tour can be seen in 160-170 countries worldwide.

One of the most important events for the Tour was the selling of the exclusive rights to broadcast the event. With the sale of exclusive rights, came sponsorships for teams. The sponsorships had a positive economic impact for the organizers of the Tour.

As a result of the increased television coverage, the written press has had to change its strategy when trying to write about the Tour. Now the viewers have a better view of the race from their home TV-screens than the journalist would have from the sidelines of the actual event. For this reason, journalists need to focus more on analysis and explanation of the race and supplement the coverage with interviews, player facts, etc. Unfortunately, the general tendency of the younger journalists has been to avoid the explanations and analysis and stick solely to the supplements and facts.

LeBlanc also notes that the relationship between cyclists and journalists have changed as well. Now, the dynamics between the two are more “hurried,” considering the fact that “nowadays, there are more things to do, timetables are tighter and we’re more hurried.” To avoid misinformation and rumors from starting and spreading, the Tour organizers give material to different publications and journalists to incorporate in their writing.

1986 Tour de France Coverage, click here

2010 Tour de France Coverage, click here

Rudiger Theilmann: Brand Europe:Moves Towards a Pan-European Identity

by: Shireen Cohen

In his article “Brand Europe: Moves Towards a Pan-European Identity”, Rudiger Theilmann discusses the role and expansion of “branding” beyond it’s intended consumer goods realm. One such new realm would be applying it to countries and destinations. Theilmann first poses a question asking “whether the application of branding strategies to places is well-grounded or merely a vague trend based on false logic.”

The reading aims to address three points: whether places can be branded the same way that tangible consumer products, defining the boundaries and features of place branding and whether the European countries can be branded with those features.

The article stresses that a distinction exists between destination branding and place branding. Destination branding focuses on attracting visitors and tourists. Place branding aims to “promote economic, commercial and political interests at home and abroad.”

Marketing is experiencing a shift from communicating to the consumer to communication with the consumer. This shift is a move towards more audience interaction with the product. In the place-brand situation, this is much more difficult since the place-brand has much less control over the experiences.

There are three main sources of audience experience: mass media, direct experience and brand communication strategies. Mass media is the creation of reality based on news and journalists. Direct experience involves perceptions which audiences themselves create with the object. And finally, brand communications is the most manageable and controllable by the place-brand. All three of these elements work together to create the audience experience.

Since direct audiences experiences is such a crucial role in place branding, there is a focus on trying to offer a “reality experience” to an audience. The diversity of audience-experience is also segmented by purpose of visit (ie. to visit family, for business) and the sources of their experience. The brand needs to clarify the message for each of these segments.

For the audience to seek the experience, the audience must have some sort of knowledge about the place. If the case is that the audience has no knowledge, a promotional campaign would be most useful. An example would be the 2006 film Borat, which was first created to bring Kazakhstan into the spotlight.

Countries use the concept of a “brand” to change or modify the established image or reputation their country might have. The author gives the example of the Eastern European countries that used to belong to the Soviet Bloc. Interestingly, the rebranding efforts of most of these countries are so similar that they defeat the purpose of creating individuality and uniqueness for each “brand”. At the same time, the similarity of their brands allows for the creation of transitional brands.

The challenge is for place-brands to focus on offering both “uniqueness within homogeneity.” One example would be the German campaign Deutschland- Land der Ideen (Germany- Land of Ideas).

French Sports and Tourism Media

Isabella Aballi

Screened Out: The Racing Drive and His Double – Jean Baudrillard

Baudrillard delves into the nature of Formula One racing and the ways in which the sport has morphed into a spectacle that is merely a performance. Baudrillard believes that we live in an “era of Performance” and that Formula One is a prime example of it. Formula One is a performance because “the heights achieved are the work of man and machine simultaneously” combined and essentially blurred because technology “pushes man to his limits and man

identifies with technology and projects his passions into it”—it is a “spectacular sacrifice.”

Competition does not take place in th

e actual circuit of the race it takes place “on the world car market, in the drivers’ popularity charts, in advertising and the star system”—it only appears to be a competition on television. Baudrillard says that the real pleasure of driving has diminished and is almost nonexistent because of the shift from movement to speed—the movement of the body to the screen of speed which creates only a passion for winning and nothing else.

Other than a passion for the winning, Formula One racing has created a passion for accidents and death. “Death is no longer anything but a virtual imaginary element. Only the cars die, only the engines are driven to destruction.” The abstract nature of racecar driving has attached spectacle to death—everyone is waiting for an accident even though showing it “live” on TV is unheard of; the possibility is what exites the public.

Baudrillard states that the “impact of Formula One lies in the exceptional and mythic

character of the event of the race and the figure of the driver and not in the technical or the commercial spin-offs.” According to Baudrillard, Formula One is a monster concentrated on technology, money, ambition, and prestige—it is purely an event.


Tourism and Consumer Culture: Club Med - Ellen Furlough

Club Med is regarded as the “confluence of commerce and culture within commercial tourism.” It was founded by Gerard Blitz in 1950 who wanted to promote the idea of self-indulgence, physical pleasures and an escape from the real world and ones everyday habits. Club Med villages were originally founded as an escape from the war; the villages were low budget and extremely low key. People slept in U.S. army surplus tents and gathered to play improvised games and sports. Even the atmosphere at Club Med was very casual and the informality and relative lack hierarchy reflected the personality of the founder and the people who worked at Club Med.

In the mid 1950’s, Club Med began to expand rapidly and adopted a new approach to business thanks to Gilbert Trigano, “a former communist who became involved with Club Med because of his family’s camping supply business.” In the late 1950’s Club Med was already regarded as a commercial organization that started buying out competitors and increasing profits across its many sites.

In 1965 Club Med opened its first luxury hotel in Morocco and soon became a “large, multinational corporation and one of the major players in the commercial tourism and leisure industry.” One of Club Med’s major appeals was the spirit or “esprit du Club” that adopted three major elements:

1) To be diametrically different from everyday life and to provide ‘mental and physical detoxification—The Club Med villages were isolated from any kind of outside distractions and tourism. There was emphasis on the idea that you “entered” and “left” Club Med giving it a utopian feel that made the village more disconnected and a world of its own.

2) Erasing social barriers and distinctions—The Club Med villages encouraged the use of “tu” among the people to create a more familiar vibe; they also called each other by their first names and avoided any conversations pertaining to position, status or occupation outside of the village. Another aspect that erased social barriers was the relaxed dress code that made it hard to distinguish people’s cultures or classes through bathing suit and beach apparel.

3) An emphasis on leisure and play—Club Med sought to eliminate any traces or appearances of work in the villages in an attempt to erase the frustrations and anxieties that are brought upon people through work. Club Med provided ease and leisure.

Club Med also became quite famous for its relaxed encouragement of sexuality freedom among the people which made it a very attractive site for vacation in the 60s and 70s.

Although Club Med emphasizes its ability to eliminate social distinctions, "like other aspects of consumer culture, [Club Med] (re)invented social distinctions" because it was predominantly constructed by and for "white, economically advantaged Europeans and some Americans."

"Club Med also reinforced and in some cases re-invented social hierarchies between people in the villages and in host countries." Club executives chose locations for the different Club villages due to "exotic" locations that were low cost and evidently became "objects of a reconfigured colonialist adventure that could be purchased."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

French Entertainment Media

At the heart of French television entertainment is the round table talk show. This format dominates the networks with a total of 650 talk shows. Below are Le Grand Journal, On n'est pas couché, Toute une histoire and Bibliotheque Medicis.

The French talk show has even had some influence on American media. Apostrophes was a talk show hosted by Bernard Pivot. Pivot used a version of Proust's questionnaire with his intellectual and celebrity guests. The question format was later used for Inside the Actor's Studio.

Above are some of the broadcasters and media forms in French entertainment. Below Arte and Luxe TV are included in popular cable packages but are considered more serious, high culture entertainment aligned with more traditional European values than pop American media.

Vincent Bolloré has recently come to light in French entertainment with his takeover of Virgin in France. He replaced it with a new channel DirectStar. Bolloré also owns Direct 8, the metro journals Direct Matin and Direct Soir, London based Aegis and other media companies.

DirectStar was applauded for taking over UK Virgin but the content on DirectStar and also Direct 8 resembles anglo media like E Entertainment network as seen below in the use of pop English language titles.

Above Vivendi owns Canal+ the main name in French cinema. Canal+ pre-buys the majority of French film to help distribution. Below the French Cannes Film Festival is a global event that attracts more attention than the French national Oscars known as the César Awards.

Above historic images of Cannes with Grace Kelly and Jean Cocteau and below the American celebrities who launch at Cannes for its chic factor.

French celebrity media is somewhat limited due to privacy laws though it has been increasing. The main formats such as Paris Match and Grazia cover many American celebrities. Across Europe the biggest celebrity media centers are the UK, followed by interest in royalty in Sweden and the Netherlands.

Above Bridget Bardot who has received negative media attention for her comments regarding French immigrants and below support for Roman Polanski, a French citizen who has received negative media attention for fleeing the US court.

The question is if these individuals step into the media spotlight, if then they should be held to higher standards, such as appearance and morality. There is also a question is the spotlight brings undue pressure encouraging or even allowing bad behavior.

It could be argued that the French started reality tv with Le Prix du Danger in 1983. The film focused on a reality game show with a man competing for his life. A decade later, the UK show Big Brother became the dominant influence on French confinement scenario shows such as Loft Story and Secret Story.

Since Big Brother, France has created many American spin offs with reality game shows such as Taxi Cash based on Cash Cab. These are low cost shows as there are no actors and can be customized. Below a variety of French serial fiction shows have begun to resemble reality television, such as Plus Belle la Vie.

Finally the fate of French entertainment is like that of the rest of the world. New media and social networking have begun to pull people away from one directional mass media like film and television. Writing in 1996, French writer Jean Baudrillard stated: “What if information did not relate to the event or facts but to the promotion of information itself as the event?...this is where McLuhan’s formulation can be seen as absolutely brilliant: the medium has swallowed the message and it is this the multi medium that is proliferating in all directions.”