They call him the sacred monster of french advertising. He is, after all, the author of this quote: "Do not tell my mother that I am working in advertising, she thinks I am a pianist in a brothel". He was the creator of the slogan Force Tranquille, which has become the symbol of Francois Mitterand. He was a Doctor in Pharmacy, worked for Paris Match and France Soir, became a TV producer at ORTF, achieved the first world tour of a French car and, at 35, he became business partner with Bernard Roux and founded Roux Seguela. Most importantly, he is the author of a very important chapter in the history of advertising.
We talked with Jacques Séguéla after his awesome presentation at IAA Global Conference „Creativity4Better”. We asked him how did advertising changed in 65 years, what was lost and what was gained? What does he like now in advertising? What does he hate?
When I started, it was so simple, says Jacques. The center of advertising was the creativity. Now, we have marketing, data, numbers, digital, PR.
Advertising was special
When I started, 60 years ago, advertising was the new job, the new world, the new space, the new creativity. And people loved advertising. And advertisers loved advertising. Now it's just a tool for them, like marketing and data. Advertising was special. Now, it is only a job. We are 40.000 people in the world now. When I started, we were 40. So simple. The center of advertising was creativity. Now, we have marketing, data, numbers, digital, PR. And advertising people say I have an idea, please, look at my idea.
What is lost. The autenticity, the risk, the pure reality, the shyness, the impertinence and inconscience are lost. We don't see them anymore. Now, advertisers spend more and more, there is a lot of advertising and multimedia.
Too much advertising kills advertising. I said that 40 years ago and it's still true.
Advertising in 2019
I like the extreme, the enormous posibilities of media. I fight against media because I don't want media to become the center of advertising. But, all the new media today - from data to artifical intelligence - can make a lot of things possible. Things that were impossible ten years ago.
Thirty years ago, we sent a lot of "bomardiers" during the evening news programme. There are 10 millions people looking at the evening news at TV. And with our "bombs" we killed everything. Now, there are no more bombardiers. We go directly to the guy or the woman that we want to reach. That is fantastic.
Our job is a triple job. The first job is bodyguard of the brand. More and more, brands are attacked and we need to react within the hour. And we have to be ready to combat.
Second job, my favourite, is body-art. With every message of the brand, we need to be sure that the DNA of the brand is there.
Third, is Guard of Time. 80% of the brands I knew from the last century are dead. And 80% of the brands we are working with today will be dead. So, you need to fight for eternity. I've been the Creative Director for Citroen for 65 years. So, our first job is to protect the brand in time.
Creativity is the same. Creativity is a group of people thinking how can I be different?
At first, people didn't love advertising. That's why I named my first book, Don't tell my mother that I am working in advertising, she thinks I am a pianist in a brothel. My mother really introduced me to people saying that I was a pharmacist. And I told her, Mom, I work in advertising, and she said: Shhhht, I would lose all my friends if they knew that.
So, no, French people didn't like advertising at the begining. But there was a big love in the 80's. There were magazines and TV shows about advertising. Now, too much media and too much brand messages destroyed advertising. Now, 50% of the public say they don't like advertising. But it still works. If you are creative enough.