We, the people… (by Joanna Kowalska-Iszkowska, Brussels correspondent, Newsweek Poland)
Let me start with a bold statement. I am a big fan of European integration and a staunch supporter of the Lisbon Treaty. Last week I was in Ireland for a few days and came back pretty depressed. Not because the Irish are going to vote ‘no’ in the second referendum scheduled for October 2 but because they are going to say ‘yes’.
The Irish are in bad shape. Their economy shrank by 8,5 % in the first quarter of this year, virtually in each family somebody has lost a job, some have lost houses. The worst is still to come. People fear the future.
As it was not enough, there comes Europe. The president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, has recently warned that foreign investors may think that the Irish are leaving Europe if they dare to say ‘no’ to Lisbon. The government in Dublin is repeating that a ‘no’ vote would cost Ireland jobs. Threats about a loss of an Irish commissioner are so frequent that hardly anybody pays attention.
The Irish feel they are being bullied. There is a lot of bitterness in the air. “What part of our ‘no’ doesn’t Europe understand?”, asked a student I talked to. “When the French said ‘no’ to the Constitution nobody even thought about a second vote. Politicians know that once French people get angry they tend to guillotine their leaders. We do not”.
All the ‘no’ people I talked to stressed they are not against Europe, they just sense that this treaty goes too far. After hearing about this huge gap between the people and Brussels elites I started to wonder – to what extend politicians can (if at all) impose on people projects and ideas? Could European integration go that far if the people had been consulted all the time? Probably not…
In 2007 Valery Giscard d’Estaing, a former French president and one of the founding fathers of the rejected Constitution, cynically remarked in the Le Monde interview: “Public opinion will be led to adopt, without knowing it, the proposals we dare not present to them directly”. I think he was wrong. Not only because the Irish were not led to adopt the treaty as predicted.
At least not until now. Things are worse. Irish people may not fully comprehend the bureaucratic jargon of the Lisbon Treaty but they do sense what’s going on. At that point they simply do not want further integration.
What makes it even more problematic is the fact that they are not alone. One of the posters which I spotted on the streets of Dublin read: “95 % of Europeans would vote ‘no’. It is a quote from infamous (at least in the Brussels beltway) Irish commissioner, Charlie McCreevy, who by the way publicly admitted he had not read the entire Lisbon treaty. He added that nobody ‘sane’ would do so. I met Irish people who did read the whole stuff. They will vote ‘yes’ not because of Lisbon’s merits but because of fear.
‘Nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear,’ Albert Camus.
USA and Europe, two faces of advertising (by David Martin, Ogilvy-New York)
According to most people advertising is simply “the activity of attracting public attention to a product or business, as by paid announcements in the print, broadcast, or electronic media.” For most creatives this definition is lacking something important. It’s missing the artistic implications of creating an advertisement. Creatives only celebrate advertisements that are able to sell a product in an artistic way. That could be with a brilliant tag line, a jaw dropping visual, a sarcastic joke or a beautiful metaphor. Advertising has become the ART of selling. And as in any craft there are different ways to approach it. My experience has shown me that a country’s culture and level of education dictate what kind of advertising people will be exposed to.
After several years of work in agencies in the United States and Europe I have come to realize that European advertising is pretty much like European cinema. Good European advertising attempts to make consumers think. It treats buyers as an educated and intelligent whole that wants to be challenged. With metaphors, sarcasm and smart tag lines. American advertising, on the other hand, is aimed more at the masses. It treats consumers as if they could only understand *extreme basics. To comprehend the difference between advertising in Europe and the USA, all you have to do is watch the coming attractions in the movies. To get people to come see their films Americans have to explain the entire movie in the preview. Sometimes there’s no point in watching the movie after the preview. European previews try to give you a taste of what the movie will be about without giving away the best parts. They want to stimulate your brain and create an interest. In the USA they stimulate your eyes with the most revealing parts to cause that same interest.
In the end its all about how you educate your audience. If you make advertising for the less educated part of a country’s society you will not elevate their standards. European advertising, for the most part, sells the product but wants to make the consumer think. American advertising is usually just a slap in the face. Instead of a dry clever joke they prefer crass toilet humor. Man slips on banana peel. Man falls on the floor. Americans defend it by saying its proven to work. Companies are selling, therefore they must be doing something right. The answer is, yes, of course it’s going to sell. But as I said before, advertising is an art. The ART of selling. And all arts at least attempt to elevate a society’s cultural standards. You can’t just conform to what you think people want. By not challenging viewers minds, American advertisers are taking for granted that their education is just not good enough. And if there is one thing that Americans like is a good challenge. Give the people the chance to prove they can react to smarter ads. And I tell you they will. But it all has to start on the top, with the creatives wanting to make a difference.