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Open to the World

Every once in a while, an ad campaign captures an idea better than a host of tomes or pundits. I was running through Roissy airport several times last year to catch flights from the U.S. down to the south of France when I was stopped in my tracks by a series of larger than life photos for HSBC Bank.*

Bon, Mauvais, Mauvais, Bon (Good, Bad, Bad, Good)

Cool, Pas cool, Pas cool, Cool
(Cool, Not cool, Not cool, Cool)

Moitié vide, Moitié plein (Half empty, Half full)

Clearly the message was that different people can see the same thing quite differently…whether it's food, footwear or the proverbial glass of water. The main ad caption elaborated: Etre ouvert sur le monde, c'est de comprendre les differences de points de vue. (To be open to the world is to understand different points of view.)

As I traveled to France every few weeks, I began to look forward to new updates to the campaign. I was not disappointed.

Passionnant, Ennuyeux, Ennuyeux, Passionnant (Riveting, Boring, Boring, Riveting)

Vilain, Mignon, Mignon, Vilain
(Ugly, Cute, Cute, Ugly)

Folie, Génie, Génie, Folie
(Folly, Genius, Genius, Folly)

Force, Agilité, Agilité, Force
(Strength, Agility, Agility, Strength)

Victoire, Défaite, Défaite, Victoire
(Victory, Defeat, Defeat, Victory)*

Journée, Soirée
(Day, Evening)

Soirée, Journée
(Evening, Day)

Chacun a son point de vue sur le monde. Quel est le vôtre? (Everyone looks at the world from a different point of view. What is yours?)

While the ads did not make me run out and open an account with HSBC, they did remind me what a cultural crossroads Europe-and the planet for that matter-is. They also reminded me that even though force of habit, lack of time or even lack of interest can make being open to the opinions of others difficult, respecting where others are coming from can work miracles…and might bring at least a modicum of world peace!

Next time you're passing through Roissy, keep your eyes open for the attention-grabbing series.* It's worth a good pause.

* Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris is also known as Roissy. Locals tend to say Roissy rather than Charles de Gaulle. Most international flights go in and out of Roissy which is located northwest of Paris. Orly airport south of the city serves primarily the domestic market.
* Austerlitz is known as one of Napoleon's greatest victories. In 1805, the French emperor won a decisive victory against the Russians and Austrians near Austerlitz, a small town in today's Czech Republic. At Waterloo in 1815, Napoleon was soundly defeated by the English and the Prussians. Waterloo is located in present-day Belgium.
* The HSBC ad campaign in France can also be viewed here:

August 20, 2008

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