As a Frenchman running the Paris office of BrownKSDP, a UK agency with offices in six international markets, I was intrigued to read Win over the Resistance (News Analysis, DW 1 December 2000).
Much of what you say is true about the factors affecting the lack of success of UK design agencies in the French market – most notably the failure to appreciate our strong cultural identity; and the failure to not just communicate in French, but also to employ French design staff to deal with clients.
However, to suggest that French clients are only now beginning to realise the value of strategic design is not very fair.
When we set up in Paris in 1996, we did so because our France-based clients were asking for strategic input, particularly to help them roll out brands across international markets, and we have helped a great many of them to realise their ambitions since that time.
What has changed among French client companies, however, is the attitude towards the UK.
In particular, the emergence of London in Europe on a design and artistic platform has contributed favourably towards the image of UK creativity in numerous sectors, as well as increased the value that French business places upon it as a resource.
The likes of John Galliano, Alexander McQueen and Terence Conran, for example, are very much seen as the ambassadors of UK creativity.
The net result is that UK design groups such as Lewis Moberly, Fitch and BrownKSDP, which have already proved themselves in the marketplace, are well placed to capitalise on the growing interest, confidence and positive attitudes expressed by French business towards UK creativity.