The Adrants Interview: Bill Green And Angela Natividad Discuss Trans-Atlantic Internet Culture

Bill Green of Make the Logo Bigger connected with Adrants co-editor Angela Natividad who lives in Paris. They were discussing her recent Marketing 2.0 moderator gig when the differences between American and French internet cultures came up. Green says while people might “Think Globally,” realistically, they blog local and sometimes forget there’s life outside their own little world.
BG: You mentioned that the US tends to think of itself first when it comes to the internet and that there actually are bloggers beyond our borders. Gasp! If that’s so, what’s the European blogger mindset like?
AN:Influential French bloggers share the mindset of American bloggers that’ve committed to the cause: They’re opinionated trailblazers, but conversations with industry folk–like Andreea Popa of Pourquoitucours, Gaël Clouzard of in:fluencia, or Emmanuel Vivier of Buzz Paradise–leave me with the sense that the French mainstream is more wary of social media than the U.S. So you’ve got bloggers in France with a huge audience outside of it–like garance doré–that are less well-known in mainstream France.
BG: You see in China and Iran where bloggers who speak out against the government are dealt with pretty much the way we treat murderers here. Is political dissent online something Europe has to deal with too?
AN: Europe’s a big continent. ;-p There’ve been problems in the past with Russian bloggers feeling the need to self-censor, but it’s not that way with the French media blogging community. Then again, the things their societies and governments are willing to accept are completely different from those in Russia. The French government, for example, is accustomed to varying degrees of dissent.
BG: Here we have what’s known as an A-list, (in terms of bloggers), and I would assume there as well. But please, tell me France has outlawed Mommy Bloggers™.
AN: I haven’t read any French Mommy Bloggers yet, but I’m sure they’re out there, fomenting in some still-quiet corner of the Internets.
BG: Speaking of, is there life beyond blogs there for people? Is Twitter catching on, Facebook, etc. Seems people here are polygamous when it comes to the number of social nets they use. Can the same be said there?
AN: Twitter in France is kind of where it was in the States two years ago. I think Facebook starting to impact the mainstream, at least in the city. At ad:tech Paris, Facebook’s Blake Chandlee mentioned the French audience jumped from two million to nine million in just a year.
“Facebook” talk in métros and cafés got really intense after the redesign. People are excited about it, they’re eager to incorporate it into their lives, but that redesign threw everyone for a loop.
BG: You see how consumerism is tied closely with American culture. Is it tied into the online space the way it is here, like… if someone has a bad experience with an airline, store, etc., are they rushing to blog it? Or is America just shopping-ass crazy?
AN: I haven’t seen much of that, but the Ryanair debacle is common knowledge. People are more inclined to take crappy customer service experiences in stride, although that of course is changing.
“The customer is always right” is one of those whiny Anglo ideologies. American, specifically.
BG: So is the internet as important to people in France as it is to us here?
AN: The internet isn’t as crucial to daily life in France as it is in the States. It took me a month to get wireless in France. That’s a typical amount of time to wait. Even if you’re working in media, there’s no insatiable urgency to be connected constantly.
It’s a social country; people want to drink and face each other over lunch or dinner. But you’re seeing more phones around the table. Idle scrolling, Twitter-checking–still mainly among media people though.
BG: Translate in French: “I’m eating a delicious salad.”
AN: Je mange une salade délicieuse.
BG: Congrats! You just started the Official French Twitter Movement.
BG: That was French, right?
AN: That was iChat pidgin.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.