[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index
France Pepsi's Worker Holiday, May
- Subject: France Pepsi's Worker Holiday, May
- From: cd@xxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Wed, 01 May 1996 13:57:00
Subject: Re: France Pepsi's Worker Holiday, May 1st.
" PepsiMania " in France. First of May News on the Premier May, the
French national workers holiday.
by Dawn Star, Paris, UVI.net
Paris - Apart from the PepsiCo advertising campaigns that periodically
sweep across French television viewers like soaring eagles over canyons
of young " Max " Pepsi canners, idly urging French youth,in vain, to get
on with it in life and stop living off their parent's fortunes, free
state health and education, along with state-funded job training and
unemployment protection, the French love affair with the American Dream
is now taking a new look as Pepsi blitzes French media. The French press
are once again, happily in tow, cowing to the mega company whose goal
seems bent as much to dilute their passion for French wine, as their mind
and conscience for a humanitarian response to the human tragedy in Burma.
For everywhere I turn, from radio shows to cyber-cafés, Burma is no less
foreign to the new youth generation here in France than their penchant
for cola. Yet, Pepsi is bent on changing that consumer profile. Despite
the wave of articles from the international wires, and the American
press, except the new publication UVI.net, and a no longer publishing
but formerly hip and leftist-anarchist tabloid " Maintenant " , no one
in the French press has raised a eye about the Pepsi problem in Burma,
and how ethical corporate investment has proved itself as a model of
selective purchasing endorsed by the ban on Burma business and trade
across the United States from Harvard to Oakland, Wisconsin Seattle to
Georgetown, and blasting into the PepsiCo corporate boardroom.
Indeed, the political climate in France is worse than ever to highten
French awareness to the plight in Burma. Ever since the right-wing
victory, last year, in French presidential politics which delivered
Jacques Chirac and his RPR party to power, the same brazen capitalist
faction that is behind Total's incursion into Burma, and Chirac's visit
earlier this year to Asia, accompanied by Total's CEO, Thierry Desmarest,
is raising its ugly head. Recently, France's most popular comedy show,
Les Guignols on Canal Plus was censored after having tested the limits
of satire and good " French taste " in a character sketch of the wife of
President Chirac, masterbating with a leather sac while watching her
favorite host animator of a simulated home product television program.
Evidently, the comedy writers had gone beyond the President's limit of
tolerance - or that of its adveritising sponsors, including Pepsi. And in
the street, it is virtually impossible to walk in Paris and not see
French immigration police interogating dark skinned looking men,
presumably of African or Arab origin, for prove of their identity papers
and right to live in France. The so-called " Pasqua Law " has been
greeted by minimal protest as France cleans up the streets of competing
cheap labor, and extraneous burdens to their mighty costly government
social programs that benefit their increasing jobless ranks.
So, while the right-wing crackdown continues, taking on new form and
character weekly, to assure and pacify the French population as it
trembles in front of its uncertain economic future, a sort of
mindlessness towards Burma and Human Rights threatens to silence
(passive) resistance to Pepsi's propoganda mission here, in a seamless
consumer picture of French life where all is well at home and abroad -
or at least, calm in the countryside. The nightly news programs reporting
increasing incidents of national violence have taken on a dimension not
unlike the soft approach of CBS's Dan Rather's rendering of a violent and
chaotic world. But that same world is also here packaged by PepsiCo and
Heineken, the latter, too, taking a predominantly strong high-profile in
youth magazine advertising.
However, whereas in the United States, governed by a decidedly
strong activist mentality in the appeal of grassroots democracy, in
Paris, birthground of the Rights of Man, civil disobedience and popular
protest has diminished decidedly since the job crisis uproar last
December -which ironically cooled down just in time for the French to go,
once again, on their vacation. That disruption, largely caused by the
striking SNCF national railroad unions in opposition to the government's
austerity economic plan, found little solidarity among the working
nation, and nearly backfired as the vacation approached. Prime Minister
Alain Juppé disappeared for weeks, then miraculously withstood the storm
of protest, and whipped the opposition into line.
Life has been relatively quiet ever since. The arrival in Paris of
Chinese Prime Minister's visit a few weeks ago bought out media cameras,
but incited random protest, and in Lyon, last weekend, a ten year
commemoration of the Russian Tchernobyl nuclear disaster, found less than
three hundred activists assembled to denounce nuclear energy, despite
incessant news and documentaries of an imminent nuclear disaster
repeating itself, and careless nuclear waste disposal in several sites in
France, resulting in serious leakage and harm to health and the
No, fellow workers and wage-earners, here in France do not think too much
about social demonstations. The Chirac government has tamed the popular
beast and he is indolently reposing in the French countryside, out of
harm's danger, and watching PepsiCo's " NuméroMania " media campaign,
launched on the most popular French television channel, TF1. Its a
clever advertising -sponsor scheme designed to lure French people into a
Lotery impulse similar to the highly successful " Loterie nationale ",
and tested by PepsiCo in other European countries and Latin America,
and all part of a colossal effort by PepsiCo to get the French to coupons
and send them back to the company with the dream of winning a gold plated
keychain, - or cash.
PepsiCo has launched its media campaign unchallenged in size or
magnitude by any other product or company in France. Over ten million
dollars has been invested, with another million dollars of prizes. The
scheme is childishly simple : Collectors of yellow caps from Pepsi
bottles -some 50 million bottles have been thrown onto the market here.
Each cap contains a number between 1 and 999, corresponding to a money
prize of $100 dollars, $200 dollars or one million francs ($200 000
Each night, minutes before the national 8 PM TV news programs,
two hip animators, announce the winning numbers.
PepsiCo is not taking much chance on this loto-marketing, having
taken polls and market studies on the French passion for loterie playing,
and numbers. Go to any café in France and you can buy Loto cards for a
couple of francs. Its as common as crossing the street. PepsiCo expects
to use its money loto campaign to increase market sales by 30%. In
Spain, sales increased 35%, and in Poland, 65%.
Meanwhile, there is a virtual blackout in the French news here on
Burma, excepet for the campaign mounted by UVI.net. Even in last
weekend's Sunday edition of the prestigous, Le Monde, the French daily
newspaper that only until recently never took advertising, hitherto black
and white only, featured a front page story " Pepsi 'back in USSR' ",
referring to Nikita Khrouchtchev Pepsi-in-hand patronizing at the 1959
american trade show in Moscow. While trailing Coca Cola in Asia, Coke
says they both share 15% of the billion dollar a year Russian cola
market. Pepsi disagrees and claims to produce twice that amount there.
So a new Cola war is launched. Both multinationals are investing
billions in Russia, and PepsiCo last Saturday staged a rock concert in
Red Square for 200,000, and broadcast on national television with
gesticulating endoresement by shapely " all-american " model Cindy
Crawford, If that wasn't enough, Pepsi called up two Russian cosmonauts
in the orbiting space station Mir, to launch its " Blue " campaign.
Pepsi still has a long way to go before it seduces the Russians
as they are trying here in France. The Russians drink twenty-three times
less cola then Americans...
Incidently, on the same page of the Tuesday edition of " Le Monde ",
next to the article " La 'NuméroMania' de Pepsi-Cola ", this once
leftist-oriented paper features a story on French tourism, entitled "
Touristes sous influences ", or " Tourists under the Influence ", on how
French travel agencies seduing voyagers to Asia. It describes " the
triumph of Burma " , and how French travel agencies to pay journalists
for travel stories to help sell travel packages there " as their impact
is much greater on consumers than advertising because they know the
vision of what we are selling. It is no different that anything else sold
to consumers. "
And so it is that with the Pepsi campaign, French consumers get their
dose of the economic consumer blitz, while unemployement here continues
to rise, without any sign of it abating, and the opposition Party recedes
further from site under pressure from the Right, disgraced, ridiculed,
and buried by its legislative loss a year ago, after fourteen years of
Mitterand-bankrupt socialism. It would appear that the French are now
thoroughly predisposed to consume Pepsi, and forget about the suffering
of the Burmese people, the corruption of the Slorc junta, and the
unethical practices of businesses and corporations out to make a fast
buck on the Burma Boom trade.
No, here, on a sleeply First of May Day of traditional worker solidarity,
this once great country France, which earlier this month awarded Burma
with an International Tourist Award, is blissfully out of touch with what
is going on today with the Free Burma activist movement in the United
States to restore democracy to the millions of workers and people in
Burma, enslaved by a military regime, like the French, doped by PepsiCo
and a greedy and indifferent travel and tourist industry. Indeed, it is a
sad day for all free workers in France.