A former pharmacist, Paris Match reporter and driver of the first round-the-world trip in a French car, Jacques Séguéla is now one of France’s leading advertising prodigies of all time.
With nearly half a century worth of experience, Séguéla was the editor-in-chief of France Soir’s at 30, and co-formed Roux Séguéla by the time he was 35, through which he played a part in creating poster campaigns for Mitterrand, Chirac and Giscard d’Estaing and landmark work for Carrefour’s Produits Libres.
Séguéla talked about creativity, data and the evolution of agencies. We picked up 7 quirky things he said that tickled the audience’s funny bone/
On Singapore’s advertising scene:
The Japanese are the Germans of Asia, the Chinese are like the Americans of Asia and Singaporeans are like the Latin of Asia. Now it has become a little more like America and it is a mistake, so come back to the Latin way. Money is just money, come back to the spirit of creativity.
Optimists invented an airplane while pessimists invented parachutes.
What creatives should ask clients:
It is important to ask your client, “What does the snow become when it melts?” Their answer will be “water”, but not for a creative. For a creative guy, when snow melts it becomes “Spring”. When it comes to a brand, it is our job to find that spring and create an “eternal spring”.
On the importance of strong branding, able to stand the test of time:
An average bottle of crystal water costs a single euro whereas Evian costs twice the amount. Why? Because of Evian the brand. For two decades now Evian’s brand association with babies has remained iconic. That is true advertising.
The three ways of advertising
There are three ways of advertising, the first is the English way – starts from the brain and goes towards the heart. It is a little intellectual, creative and definitely one of the best in the world. However, it is a little difficult to grasp and explore. The second is the French way or the Latin way – starts from the heart and goes into the brain. It can be a little sentimental, poetic, and even a little sexual.
The last is the American way – starts from the brain and goes straight to the wallet. This really isn’t my kind of advertising.
On ideas and how to make money off them
Advertising is all about an idea, if you don’t have an idea, leave this job, or go to Publicis (ouch!). Advertising isn’t just about any kind of idea, it is about the idea which can sell and it is our job to find this idea. Only ideas make money and as we dive further into advertising, we need more and more money.
On the right agency for a brand
When you are a client and you choose a bad agency, you will lose money. But when you choose a great agency, you have a chance at five times the return. And that is the will of creativity.
To Séguéla, the brand is a person and its product is what allows it to communicate. To him every brand has a DNA and it is the job of a creative to find it and protect it. On the role of data in creativity, he summarised his thoughts saying “data with no solid idea is just a target without a bullet."