8 years later...

The original advertisement was an icon of a period of time... This sequels is about to become one. Enjoy and vote fellow American readers.


Life without walls, and clichés.

This blog is about cultural differences. It's also a cliché-buster. As a result, I welcome the new Microsoft campaign in the UK with some anticipation. It was released this week-end during the first break of X-Factor and I kind of like it.

Life without walls.

You might know the Get a Mac campaign where two people, one embodying a PC, the other representing a MAC are having a casual chat about the difference there are between each other. A great campaign that has contributed to reposition the Apple brand in the IT world instead of being cornered as a mere mp3 player manufacturer enable to last more than a year.

Such competitive ads are usually the lot of Coke vs Pepsi or Nike vs Reebok in the US, but the are rarely deployed globaly because of legislation constraints around copyrights and trade marks. Nevertheless the Mac campaign has made its way through the internet, and became cult to the point of being spoofed which as I wrote earlier a great indicator of a marketing break through. The thing though is that when such an aggressive reach is started, it is expected to see a response coming. But in the case of the Mac vs PC, no one picked up the glove. Why? Because too many should have, and nobody really did.

Mac is promoting both hardware and an operating system. It is therefore attacking the PC-manufacturers, i.e. the HP, Dell and other Lenovo, but also their operating system provided by Microsoft. HP had a try but avoided the direct confrontation with their campaign The Computer is Personal Again developed by Goodby, Silverstein and Partners, relayed by Publicis around the world. But let's face it this campaign is more about trying to bring some life into a cold conglomerate of transistors than responding to a direct attack from the competition...

Waiting for a sign.

I don't know you, but I have been using a PC for quite a while, since I got my first computer in fact. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I had a go at MACs in my previous agency life, mostly because if you are a creative you have to hang around with a slick Apple laptop under your arm. That is as much part of the uniform as ironic T-Shirt or flashy sneakers. But I could not really find a reason to prefer them. And just like the vast majority of the world-wide population I was quite enjoying my windows-based PC.

So when I initially saw the MAC ads, they made me smile, but on the back of my mind, I was not very happy that a brand was taking the piss, and projecting an image of me as an overweighted nerd with heavy-glasses and perfect, though oily parting. I may be a PC-user, but my parting belongs to long forgotten memories and I have lost some weight recently (thanks for asking). I also droped my Kakis pants, so to speak, long ago and wear as often jeans as casual suits. I was really expecting someone to step in, someone who would give me a sign that my ordeal was over. And the sign came, well not really a sign but a jiggle, straight from Redmond, WA:

The empire strikes back.

The hell with the clichés, and thank you Bill for letting me know that you had heard my complaint, and something was coming. Even if I did not dare verbalising it earlier, I was frustrated and am now glad that Microsoft decide to fight back on my behalf.

Fair enough the response is not aggressive, but that was to be expected from a leader. It's the underdog's role to attempt to create empathy. The creative execution is not ground breaking either, even if produced by one of the most paradigm-shifting hotshop in the world, Crispin Porter + Bogusky. Nevertheless the consu,er insight is damn right: there are so many people using PCs around the world that you cannot confine them in a nerd costume. They are way more diverse than that:

So let's put it this way, I am a PC and I am open-minded and have convictions, different and similar to many at the same time. I am a PC and I wear suits and funky T-shirts (and sometimes both simultaneously). I am a PC and I write a blog on cultural differences. I am a PC and respect people who opted for MAC.

I'm a PC Large


Don't laugh for me Argentina.


It's quite difficult to escape such a news, but it seems that we are about to enter a dark period in our History. Tough times are ahead of us. All alarms are now in the red. Tension is at its maximum. If the magazines, newspaper, TV programmes are right, we are about to hit the bottom... That's now a fact, if Saturday the French football team does not win against Romania, then farewell to the 2010 World Cup!

What? Expecting something else? Something along the lines of the current economical downturn and its horrific impact on the Western civilization economies, or something about the years of financial depression, inflation, suppressions... Whatever in -ion that might sound scary enough?

I reckon I am no financial expert, was long convinced that FT was only the acronym for Full Time, and the only time I walked in Wall Street was to grab a coffee mug in the local Starbucks. As a result, I am not sure to understand the full scope of the current crisis that is supposedly impacting us. What I get though is that following the over-use of credits from our North American friends and the greedy and short-sighted views of bankers, a wave of discredit and doubts grows. And the media inflate this trend. I am not denying that there is something worrying happening in the financial spheres that might impact everyday people. Jobs and companies are at stake. And in a town like London where everything gravitates around finance, any hiccups resonates loudly. An entire ecosystem is shaking...

Back to reality.

Earlier this week, I read a series of emails exchanged by different colleagues across the globe. They were discussing the impact of the economical turmoil on our business, and how our customers might react in such critical conditions... And yet a reply struck my mind. A few lines written in all simplicity from Buenos Aires. This email was saying in a nutshell: "Guys, remember that Brazil and Argentina went through really tough a recession a few years ago, and trust me what you are going through now is peanuts".

Let's face it. For now the crisis is rather contained to the banks. So yes, some of the bankers who were parading a few months ago in there flashy Ferraris and pocketed astronomical bonuses last January, might need to find some occupations for their new spare time. But on the other hand, we have not yet to face uncontrolled inflation. Imagine going to bed eating an apple that cost you £1 and wake up the next morning to defecate an apple core that is now valued £10 on the market stalls.

That is the kind of ratio our Argentinean friends had to face... And trying to remember what was back then in the press, I cannot remember such an alarmist campaign. I do remember the metaphysical considerations about Lionel Messi and his footbalistic potential (is he the living reincarnation of El Pibe de Oro?), about the Tevez-Mascherano tickets and their probable transfers to other Premier Leagues clubs... On the planet, newspapers are more concerned about Argentinean or Brazilian fates on football pitches than on the economical scene. Who cares after all of what happens in the favellas as long as their jewels wears your favourite jersey and kicks the hell out of leather ball.

Let's face it, we are currently facing a problem indigestion problems, whilst we ignored starving people. And to boot, we are treated by the most qualified doctors, our governments, with the best equipment, our taxes. So let's stop complaining, look ahead, straighten up, stop complaining and learn from those who managed to overcome difficulties without too loud a word. Respect.


In Betty we trust.

The Empire Strikes Back.

Not so long ago I wrote a post about the future attempt by my fellow citizens to restore French royal heads in the UK. The Buckingham response was not long to come, and H.M. Elizabeth had the following email sent around earlier today:

To the citizens of the United States of America from Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

In light of your failure in recent years to nominate competent candidates for President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately. Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except Kansas,which she does not fancy).

Your new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections. Congress and the Senate will be disbanded.
A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect (You should look up 'revocation' in the Oxford English Dictionary):

  1. Then look up aluminum, and check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it.
  2. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'colour', 'favour', 'labour' and
    'neighbour.' Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut'without skipping half the letters, and the suffix '-ize' will be replaced by the suffix '-ise'. Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (look up 'vocabulary').
  3. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as 'like' and 'you know' is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as U.S. English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter 'u' and the elimination of -ize.
  4. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.
  5. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not quite ready to be independent. Guns should only be used for shooting grouse. If you can't sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist then you're not ready to shoot grouse.
  6. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. Although a permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.
  7. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left side with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.
  8. The Former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon. Get used to it.
  9. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.
  10. The cold tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. South African beer is also acceptable as they are pound for pound the greatest sporting Nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of British Commonwealth - see what it did for them. American brands will be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat's Urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.
  11. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English dialogue in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one's ears removed with a cheese grater.
  12. You will cease playing American football. There is only one kind of proper football; you call it soccer. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body Armour like a bunch of nancies). Don't try Rugby - the South Africans and Kiwis will thrash you, like they regularly thrash us.
  13. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the South Africans first to take the sting out of their deliveries.
  14. You must tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us mad.
  15. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).
  16. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 pm with proper cups, with saucers, and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; plus strawberries (with cream) when in season!

God Save the Queen!


The dance of love

Credit: Marianne Rosenstiehl

Love conversations.

An orange square wall. Two chairs. That is the minimalist set for a touching ballet depicting the encounter of a Muslim and a romantic western woman. Love at the first site, at the first danse step I shall say... in-i drives the captivated audience through the triteness, the difficulties, the fun, the violence of love between a multicultural couple. Fantastic! Especially when you know who is on stage: two obviously talented artists share the limelight to engage the viewers in a threesome tango.

On one end, Akram Khan, a London-born dancer in his mid-thirties. He danses at incredible pace. His arms and feet defines circles as fast as an heart beats. Circumvolutions as allegories of the circles of life. On the other end, Academy-award winner Juliette Binoche! Yes, you read that right, the French actress who played in The English Patient, The Unbearable Lightness of Being or Caché, enchains summersaults, rolls and arabesques. The 44-year old comedian has definitely more than a string to her bow. And trust me she really delivers.

Both talents fusion in their dance and enroll you in their aventure. They invite you to peep into their intimacy: a beautiful entertainment, miles away from the glitters of the West End musicals, but also a sociological message delivered on drum beats and music steps. Thrilling.

Directed and performed by: Juliette Binoche and Akram Khan
Set Designer: Anish Kapoor
Lighting Designer: Michael Hulls
Music: Philip Sheppard
Sound Designer: Nicolas Faure
National Theatre until Monday Octobre 20th 2008


Mountain on the rock.

Those who know me personally might be surprised by the upcoming lines they are about to read. As a matter of fact, in spite of my citizenship, I am not an active contributor of the French paradox, this scientific observation which highlighted that the French tend to suffer less often from coronary diseases thanks to their regular consumption of wine... I indeed very rarely have a drink, mostly in very special occasions. This Tuesday was as a matter of fact a special one.
Special occasions.

Earlier this week London Blogger Meet Up was meeting again, but we benefited from a great host, in the person of Diageo, the holding company behind alcoholic beverages like Smirnoff, Bailey's, Guinness, etc. It is more and more regular that brands try to associate themselves with the social networks, trying to tie in with so-called digital influencers who might write one or two positive articles on their respective blogs, posts like this one read by a series of regular readers who trusts the source of their entertaining readings... (thanks by the way for your bespoke trust).

Anyway, some brands do this kind of approach poorly, but some excel at it. And I must admit that the Diageo team and their agency, Splendid, belong to the later category... Now imagine, you are exhausted from a long day at work trying to tackle the future of the Internet business model and you reluctantly balance the odds of having a social night out or heading home to turn yourself into a couch potato browsing the web to find out who is the greatest contender for this year Champion's League. Since Oxford Street is on your way, you are kind of forced to opt for the social route. You enter the Diageo headquarters, are kindly pointed to the hospitality room, and there a bar tender asks for your name and declares: "Cedric... You are French, come from the French Alps and write blog posts with a zest of humour and irony... Well, let's crack on YOUR cocktail then!"

"A poem, a poem..."

The scene that follows is simply stunning: this professional barman starts crushing some ice blocks, sizzling a few fruits, juggling with glasses, knives and Champagne bottles with a surprising dexterity...

And a couple minutes later: voilà! A Mountain Dweller cocktail, on the rock of course, to be drunk responsibly and moreover with a matching jumper.