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30/03/2006 - par Mark Tungate

Recently I received a mail from a student asking me all sorts of things that would help him write his thesis. One of his questions was a flattering one : why is English advertising so creative ? Everywhere I go, it's generally accepted that English spots are among the best in the world. This isn't mere patriotism : look at the number of prizes that ­English agencies win at Cannes.

So what makes English advertising so special ? To the student, I gave my usual answer, which is that the British have a sense of humour that travels well, appealing to people all over the world. We Brits have an edge of eccentricity that borders on insanity, plus a love of visual and verbal puns that makes for very entertaining ads. French advertising is sometimes witty, and often beautiful, but it is rarely both at the same time.

The following day, though, I heard a more logical answer. And it was provided by a French­man, Georges Bermann, chairman of the famous production company Partizan. Speaking at a conference organised by the UK magazine Shots in London, Monsieur Bermann revealed : « The English market has always welcomed young directors, new talents and new approaches. In France, agencies only want to work with the best-known directors. They rarely take risks. But the English are more daring than any other country in the world. »

So there's the answer : in the words of a Frenchman. And it's no use accusing me of being a bit of a partisan on this issue - if you'll excuse the pun.

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