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The Social (media) party to win the French elections!


http://www.prweek.com/article/1430953/the-social-media-party-will-win-why-big-comms-agencies-france-staying-presidential-electionsCet article de François Ramaget a été publié par PR Week en une version raccourcie. Nous publions ici l’article original.

 

 

 

Source Herodote.net

Source Herodote.net

There was a time where major communication agencies loved to display their support to major presidential candidates: The late RSCG Company, Havas or Publicis, our key industry names used to commit to our political wannabes. Many French people remember the historical image of Francois Mitterrand posing in front of a traditional French village, embodying “The quiet force”. Created by RSCG publicist Jacques Séguéla, it was designed to reassure the French people about the risk of a possible Red revolution (and it did …). In 2007, all big names were there, alongside then political stars, Strauss-Kahn, de Villepin or Mrs. Royal. And the successful campaign of Mr. Hollande, 5 years ago, was designed by a subsidiary of TBWA. But this year, nothing such. Big agencies are absent, officially at least … The only consultancies that venture into the election are not part of the market leaders:  There is only the old-style PA boutique agency Image 7 alongside François Fillon, and two small agencies – “Jesus et Gabriel” and Littlewing – supporting Emmanuel Macron. Why such a disenchantment between (potential) men of power and ad agencies experts?

One obvious reason for leading agencies to leave the field is caution: The game has changed, as the political landscape has been becoming more complex. Elections did evolve from heads or tails (right-wing vs. left-wing) to a complex lottery, where nobody – and especially polling institutes – can predict yet the name of the next president. Out of the 11 candidates, there are still 5 having some chance to make it… And investing much time and money to support a candidate that’s got one chance out of 5 to win (Le Pen – Macron – Fillon – Mélenchon – Hamon, ranked by voting intention) does not much attract listed companies…

But the main reason might be the social media phenomenon. These media are fostering a direct link to the electorate, while generating the fragmentation of the political message. Nice portraits and taglines, a poster campaign and a couple of media interviews are not anymore enough to convince. Candidates have to nurture their story with regular updates. Hour by hour, they need to explain, emerge and counterattack, which is the role of social channels. All 11 candidates are on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Most are on Instagram, some are even on Snapchat. And community management requires an ongoing attention, a great risk for traditional agencies. Candidates do then prefer to have their own comms teams to manage their digital presence. And they’re right.

 

Source Telerama

Source Telerama

Just an example: When Francois Fillon officially revealed his new poster claiming “Une volonté pour la France” (A will for France), it only took a few hours for opponents to transform it. It then became “Un vol pour la France” (A theft for France). Fillon supporters’ counterattack wasn’t long with the creation of @Emmanuelhollande, a hybrid character mixing the faces of Francois Hollande and Emmanuel Macron, to describe candidate Emmanuel Macron as some sort of a hidden Francois Hollande … And the Twitter account of this new persona has been incredibly active with more than 3,000 tweets over one week!

Social media are key to adapt with the rhythm of a campaign that’s full of surprising news. Since January, a flow of media revelations has been regularly impacting the reputation of major contenders, forcing them to frequently review their preconceived positions. And their popularity is very much dependent on their ability to cope with these media stunts… For instance, it’s tough for Mr. Fillon to propose a cut of 500, 000 civil servants after he was sued for the fictitious employment of his wife as a parliamentary assistant. The same way, the revelation of Mr. Macron’s fortune, underlining he should have spent more 1 million euros in 3 years, makes it difficult for him to maintain his (partly) socialist positioning … In a political landscape that’s media and social media driven, there seem not to be much place for ad agencies support.

 

 

Source Twitter

Source Twitter

It then looks like the uberization of political communication did eliminate traditional agencies. From a democratic perspective, this might be a good thing. Without an agency, candidates have to behave in real time, display their true personality beyond media training – and citizens might be in a better position to make an informed choice. Whatever the final choice, social media lead the way and social party is to win the French elections. From an industry perspective, the French presidential race makes a case for underlining new trends – digital literacy, high flexibility and crisis capabilities are the key strengths for today’s competitive battle.

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