Why does a Japanese car company (Lexus) have a commercial running in the United States that is all in French; not a single word in English.
I’m in France and thinking about our relationship with the British (who have invaded the Dordogne) and the French (who don’t seem to really care). We have a unique and interesting relationship with each country and it has been so for a long time.
It seems to me that we view the Brits as our relatives – we came from there, they “birthed” us – and the French as our lovers – they were with us when no one else was, and we are each uniquely enamored with the other. It was the French after all who (mostly because of their hatred of the English) provided money and a Naval blockade that enabled George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette to surround Cornwallis at Yorktown and essentially end the Revolutionary war. They were our lovers in our fight with our family.
The British are our steady relatives. They are always with us and we are always with them. Roosevelt and Churchill, Reagan and Thatcher, Bush and Blair. We’ve got their backs and they’ve got ours. But the French are fickle. They love us but aren’t always with us. They change their mind on their commitment to engage in the Iraq war but provide us the key intelligence all through it. They have a fierce independence (think De Gaulle) yet love Americans (yes, they love Americans). They disdain American culture for it’s crassness, yet McDonalds is a huge success here. They are like the beautiful woman who is crazy, but gets away with almost anything because she is beautiful.
We “inherited” many of our values from the British (hard work, duty, a sense of “proper”) but our sense of romance from the French (fashion, beauty, art, cuisine, and especially wine).
The rest of the world? They are like neighbors. Some are good and we love hanging out with them. Some we hope move away, and some we have to build a really big fence around. We live in a connected world and it is interesting to think about these relationships and how we’re connected.
I guess the folks at Lexus know that if you’re going to sell a car you sell it with your lover – not your relatives.
That’s what I’ve been thinking this month. Enjoy your summer.