Advertising and digital: 4-wheel drive powered creativity!

  • by Razvan Prejbeanu
  • Posted in Innovation
  • December 9, 2016
Advertising and digital: 4-wheel drive powered creativity!

During the Communica Show held recently in Geneva, the round table “Où va la création et qu’en est-il dans l’audiovisuel?” benefited from the presence of the famous Jacques Séguéla (vice-president Havas group), Antoine de Raemy (CEO One group), François Besançon (Director Admeira).


This fair included among the exhibitors, some of the most important and innovative web and communication companies of the French-speaking Switzerland.

Jacques Séguéla, from Havas, communication group present in more than 100 countries, explains that he began with a flop, but was lucky to go into a call for tenders at the cinema level, what in those times was the panacea because the TV did not exist. To begin with a flop can be translated as the perfect example of the self-made man. Or how by means of perseverance we can arrive at the very top without losing courage. The road towards the success is marked out by obstacles, but through hard work we can reach the summit… of the reference in term of creativity.

Illustrating this half-flop, he announces us his commercial break for Pétrole Hahn (shampoo). His advertisement begins with the Eiffel Tower. Séguéla uses the symbol of Paris, explaining that he argued to the customer « your commercial break has to be visible worldwide ». His anecdote in this connection is juicy, he reveals: « young man we shall write you » reassures him the advertiser, but he has never called Séguéla back. The latter explains: „now I know why, he had a wig“. Abundance of laughter in the room. And nevertheless, flop which is transformed into success, because the campaign Pétrole Hahn received the Lion in Cannes (prestigious advertising industry prize).

In the late 80‘s, he produces an advertising blockbuster with its ad for Citroën. It is the myth of Visa GTI, the « wild GTI ». By working on the creation briefing, he notices an important thing: he needs a real submarine or an aircraft-carrier. Being not afraid of refusal, he asks for an appointment with François Mitterrand, at this time French President, arguing „Sir we need a submarine or an aircraft carrier“. He obtains both! Small touch of philosophy when he adds that it is so much greater when the Presidents advertise rather than making war.

Let‘s look forward about 20 years with more current ads, as that of the brand Evian. In this ad, filmed at an amazing surf spot, all surfers are babies. This symbolic value is safe because for Evian, it has been 20 years since this advertising concept “youth equals Evian” works.

Besides, a fundamental element is raised by the speakers: the fact that we cross from a rational society to an emotional one.

A strong countercurrent is delivered against the frenetic consumerism by the Lacoste ad: a poignant and classic love story. Indeed, Séguéla believes in the strong feelings in a time when, he underlines, we consume men and women, everything is consumption. A romantic stays in him and he delivers in numerous interviews that his secret of longevity and creativity at its age are 40 years of love with his wife. So, these strong feelings which get under your skin are well symbolized in the Lacoste ad „Life is a beautiful sport“: a man takes his courage in his hands in the style of a sportsman before an essential competition, before taking the leap and kissing this girl.

As for François Besançon, director of Admeira, he underlines the importance of the prospects´and consumers´ targeting by adding that the revolution of the digitalization is tremendous. He specifies that « we are capable from Mountain View in California to send a message to a guy in the Carouge street » [Editor’s note: street in Geneva] with a tailored message. So, the individualization increases, in other words, copied-past German-speaking ads for Western Switzerland are something which tends to disappear. As I was able to notice during my discussions with the exhibitors at the Show Communica, the advertising and media agencies present at this event do everything to personalize the message at the local level.

But the evolution of the world of advertising risks making many damages among the companies which do not adapt themselves to the digital turning point. Regarding these firms which are not ready, Séguéla delivers that they « are in danger of death because of data”. Making the link with the higher mentioned targeting: „the data is a drone which is going to behead the guy in the right place.”

A question coming from the public asserts that the young generations have disenchantment in front of traditional media. But the speakers assert that it is not disenchantment, but a different mode of consumption. The young people watch traditional media but on the web.

Given the power of the consumer due to the interactivity of web, I had asked the following question: « what you think of the influence of testimonials that is customers’ comments on the behavior of the consumer, knowing that according to a study, 70 % of the prospects look at first at customers’ comments on the web (for example Facebook Fan page) before buying a brand product rather than of trusting the ad that they saw in the TV or somewhere else. Several brands have entire floors dedicated to the community management to dilute negative testimonials, thus ultra high-tech centers? »

Answer of Séguéla: « it is very badly perceived by agencies and announcers, because the web spirit is a perverse spirit, in the web we laugh about everything, about clumsiness, the web humor is killing the humor [it mentions the success of a singer with a very mediocre song with the very down-market humor which had several billion views on the web]. Thus we fight as we can we the advertising executives, because we cannot imagine ourselves that tomorrow, the consumers will make the ad, it is a completely crazy idea ». The moderator asks if the ad industry still has the upper hand.  Séguéla answers: « The announcers ask us now, we have enormous platforms of follow-up of the web to see, to see when there are excesses and how we can react to these excesses. We managed to be tuned in to the announcer when there are damages, to limit the damages, because it is so much money lost.“ It is exactly one of the services that a firm such as Regiconia can offer to customers: a strategy of digital branding, thanks to its expertise to advise the brands to limit this kind of damages by managing testimonials in an optimal way.