Blogs & Comment

La Difference is not such a bad way to go

Ramsey Naja is chief creative officer at JWT MEA

“There is no doubt in my mind that the French are mad. Yes, mad. Every single escargot-eating, wine-swilling, baguette-waving, Citroen-driving last one of them, mad. For one thing, the French are rubbish at nearly everything that doesn’t involve cuisine, fashion and suicidal philosophy. Their politics are a comedy series, their cars existentialist questions, and they are the global Olympic champions at every discipline that involves being pissed off – and that’s when they are not on strike. Worse still, for years, the French have tried to convince anyone who cared to listen that ‘La Difference’ was something to celebrate and that the French language should be protected by NATO. Well, I have news for you, Frenchies: like most mad people, you’re right.

“For much of the past half century and maybe beyond, English was where cool resided, with professionalism as its next door neighbour. Even the French themselves were taken by it, so much so that much of their pop culture output for decades could only be described as Inspector Clouseau. But with rampant Anglo-Saxonisation, boosted by the steroids of globalisation, threatening to merge everything into a homogenous, sanitised mass, France is turning into a bastion of resistance.

“The French are not alone. Their Latino counterparts, amongst others, have been developing a healthy dislike of all things Anglo- American. In the case of the French, however, this is carried out with such panache that you can’t help but admire the nerve of it all. More to the point, it shows a defiance that is significant for its very pointlessness. At a time when the crushing power of data is making us all speak algorithm and celebrate predictability, there hardly seems to be any space left for that gut feeling we love but are forced to deny. The French, well, they just happily ignore the norm and let themselves be guided by flair. When we all seek differentiation, La Difference is not such a bad way to go.”