- Do your research. Don’t go off clichés and assumptions about a culture. In fact, try to disprove them and understand the reality
- Market research is something every business, no matter how big or small can and should do. If you don’t have the funds for a snazzy MR agency, then a simple Q&A directly with your audience will get you a long way
- If you want a go a step further and do something more formal but affordable, use a Google form to capture user data and analyse it for free
I’m sure you’ve all finished watching Emily in Paris on Netflix by now, right? I hated it, and I loved it all at once. What about you? As a former wannabe francophile (I studied French and have always been obsessed with French language and culture), I found the show offensive quite frankly – thanks to every cliché of French people used in the show. Despite this, there is no denying the show was entertaining. So annoying and insensitive as it was, it was fun to watch.
Cliches are awful – these are just some of the ones we see – men and love, food, fashion, mean french people, whitewashing the diverse streets of the city with 1 token black man in the office. While these are Emily In Paris can somewhatttt get away with all this, in business you certainly can’t.
Brands often need to navigate foreign cultures for launches in new markets and adapting campaigns on a market by market basis, sometimes even town by town, or city by city. It is SO important to ensure you understand your target markets and all their nuances as much as possible. So, let’s explore what brands can learn from Emily In Paris’ mistakes.
Do your research
So Emily in Paris’ biggest flaw is that it’s a portrayal of common assumptions about Paris. How do you overcome this or avoid doing this in your work you ask?
It’s simple – research!
How to do your research
Research can sound quite big and scary sometimes. But honestly it’s way simpler than you think. Every business, and every client you work on, should research and get to know the target audience as much as possible.
Speak to them directly if you can, and get to know them.
Market research doesn’t have to be done by a huge expensive agency. You can do it yourself, get to know your audience more effectively, and keep costs low in the meantime.
Where to start?
If you can, speak to you audience directly, if not, put some questions into the ether and see what comes back, or hire a professional.
A couple of methods below:
1) Reach out to them directly and open a dialogue to share thoughts and feedback. This can be via social media, email, phone or any other channel of communication.
2) Organise calls (or meetings IRL) with a number of members of your audience and prep some specific questions for them. Think of a piece of information that you’d love to know that would really help you in your work and ask them that. And remember to ask more broad questions about them to truly get to know them. Take the time to – you never know what interesting things you’ll learn.
3) Set up a Google form in the style of a survey. It’s simple and free to capture quantitative and a bit of qualitative data from your audience. Post a link to the survey on your social media, or even send it directly to your audience asking them nicely to answer the questions. Then analyse you data.
- Had the writers and team behind Emily in Paris done a bit of this before creating the Netflix show, it would have been a bit more authentic and less offensive. Some things they might now know about Paris:
- Paris is an extremely diverse city, unlike the (almost) all-white depiction in the show
- French people are generally very friendly, contrary to many characters demeanour in the show… Far more friendly than dearest London, in my experience
- Not every Parisian man is a creep that hits on every pretty young woman
- French women rarely wear heels around the city on your normal work day… Not with the amount of cobble stones and walking your average Parisian does
- So much more
Overall, let’s be honest, the show is meant to be a bit of fun, and potentially escapism. It’s not necessarily meant to be a factually correct documentary about Paris. However, that’s not to say you can’t use this cliché-bomb as an impetus to to make sure you never fall into the trap of clichés and assumptions in your professional life… Which could be more detrimental than a simple rom-com on Netflix. Your key takeaway, as someone who works on brands and marketing, is to remember to do your research and explore the reality and nuances of culture.