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Interviews

3 questions to Olivier Ravanello, CEO of Explicite, the 100% web-media news outlet

The 3 questions - February 15, 2017

Independent, quality, digital: three adjectives that sum up Explicite, a new 100% Web news agency staffed mostly by journalists who quit France’s 24-hour news station i-Télé, furious over alleged editorial meddling and condoned sexual harassment. CEO Olivier Ravanello, sat down with our reporter!

Orange Pop: With Explicite, you’ve ditched traditional broadcasting for the Web’s advantages, like streaming and viewer flexibility. Are we at the dawn of a new journalistic era?

Olivier Ravanello: Explicite unites 2 complementary journalistic cultures: TV reporters, with their on-camera experience, and Internet journalists, with all their Web-savvy. We adapt content to the formats of popular social networks by developing our own news-specific apps. We’re not just slicing the 8 o’clock news up differently to make it mobile-compatible, like traditional broadcasters do. We offer a whole different format, with more efficient and thorough coverage. That means the kind of nuance and in-depth reporting that cross-pollinate wide news stories.

O. Pop: “Technological maturity” is the tipping point when the general public adopts an innovation. Streaming is already there, and the on-line press exists (Les Jours, Le Quatre Heures, Brut…). Has digital journalism also arrived?

OR: The Web format acknowledges a social shift, providing 3rd Millennium citizens with the tools they want. People are clamoring for independent news media. App and social media innovation enables us to provide high-quality, independent, digital news that any smartphone can receive.

O. Pop: What are the constraints specific to Explicite, and Web media in general?

OR: One constraint is the market for Internet-based news. It’s rapidly growing but hasn’t yet reached its economic potential, paling in comparison to TV advertising. The other constraint is just natural human resistance to change: news has always been free. How much does quality news cost? What’s it worth? We’ll have to pay if we want quality, independent news.

We need a viable economic model and investors who believe in this thing. Our crowdfunding drive is very promising, with the support of 60,000 so far on social networks. We’re true believers and think we’re the right thing at the right time.

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Olivier Ravanello, shakin’ up the French media scene © Explicite

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3 questions to Franck Simon, foreign correspondent and African football specialist

The 3 questions - February 08, 2017

Frank Simon covers football for L’Équipe, the BBC, Radio France and France Football. He’s been reporting on African football for 30 years. He shared some of the continent’s success stories with us.

Orange Pop: How popular a sport is football in Africa today?

Frank Simon: It’s always been popular in Africa because it’s a sport you can play without snazzy equipment and facilities. You can fashion a ball from paper, string, or old rags. All over Africa, everyone plays football in the street. There are even derivative forms of it, like the maracana in Ivory Coast, and farther afield in West Africa. Though the continent still lacks sufficient infrastructure, it’s passionate about the game. Women’s football is also developing there and building a fan base, which isn’t always the case in Europe.

O. Pop: What is the greatest success story in African football today?

FS: In addition to the stars who are household names around the globe, there’s Yves Bissouma, a Malian player of Ivorian descent. He started playing pick-up street ball in Abidjan’s slums. His talent got him noticed, and an invitation to a football academy in Mali followed. He grew up in Bamako, took Malian nationality, and played for Mali in this year’s African Nations Championship (exclusively for locals who play in leagues in the nations they represent) in Rwanda. Scouts took a shine to him and he signed with Lille, France. He represented Mali during the CAN and sparkled on the pitch. Not bad for a 20-year-old. He’s got a promising career ahead of him in Europe for sure.

O. Pop: How inspiring are stories like this on the continent?

FS: Every sand lot kid dreams of becoming the next Yaya Touré, Samuel Eto’o or Yves Bissouma. These sporting heroes are a huge source of inspiration across the continent. Football can offer livelihoods and the ability to help family, friends, and communities. Icons like these spark the dreams of Africa’s youth and inspire them to develop talent, values and strong work ethics. And making it doesn’t necessarily mean skipping off to Europe; you can shine in domestic leagues and on national teams.

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Frank Simon talking tactics with young talent © Frank Simon/Twitter

ELSEWHERE ON ORANGE POP

3 questions to Boubacar Niang, specialist on African football and Director of Communications at Orange Money Sénégal

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3 questions to Agnès Marcetteau, Director and Curator at the Jules Verne Museum, in Nantes

The 3 questions - February 01, 2017

Agnès Marcetteau, Director and Curator at the Jules Verne Museum, in Nantes, is an expert on Verne’s 62 novels, known as the Extraordinary Voyages. She shared insights on this visionary master of the adventure novel.

Orange Pop: Jules Verne is one of science-fiction’s pioneers. This visionary genius’s masterpieces include Voyage to the Center of the Earth, From the Earth to the Moon, and 20,000 leagues Under the Sea. How did he come up with these stories and those extraordinary machines?

Agnès Marcetteau: Jules Verne is first and foremost an author who imagines future worlds, so he’s one of the ancestors of the 20th century’s science-fiction movement. The first sci-fi writers and filmmakers, especially Orson Wells, cite him as their spiritual father,. Jules Verne got his inspiration from contemporary scientific research and technologies, altering and enhancing them for his stories. The submarine is a good example. He didn’t invent it, but he souped up the Nautilus so it almost resembles modern day nuclear subs.

O. Pop: What did Jules Verne think of progress?

AM: The general public views him as a champion of progress. But when you dig into his works, you start to see a more nuanced opinion. Jules Verne highlights the benefits of progress but ponders its dangers, too. For example, while he portrays the conquest of space as a magnificent adventure, he describes natural landscapes that have been ravaged by industry. Throughout his stories he advocates environmental protection and warns against the dangers of pillaging Earth’s resources.

O. Pop: Do you think man has surpassed the visions Jules Verne dreamed up?

AM: Where Jules Verne remains a relevant visionary is in his environmental awareness and his understanding of our fragile ecosystems. As far as technology is concerned, his wildest inventions have long been surpassed. Mankind has either already made them or his conception was erroneous and hence a dead end. But insofar as a visionary who stretched the imaginations of whole generations, Jules Verne is as relevant as ever. His inspirational force is still very powerful.

Jules Verne with the projectile train for the moon & the Nautilus

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3 questions to Paul Dillinger, Vice President of Levi’s and fashion designer for Project Jacquard

The 3 questions - January 25, 2017

With Project Jacquard, Google is teaming up with Levi’s to manufacture smart clothes – iconic jeans all souped-up with new-tech. We met with Paul Dillinger, Vice President of Levi’s to talk about this hip new fashion/tech collaboration.

Orange Pop: How did Project Jacquard start?

Paul Dillinger: The Levi’s innovation team and Google joined forces to create a modern version of denim: The Levi’s Commuter Trucker Jacket, with Jacquard technology woven in. Both Google and Levi’s bring something very special to the table in each of their respective fields of expertise. Levi’s is built on design innovation, unique craftsmanship and a pioneering spirit that has been a part of culture and style over the past 140 years. Google brings cutting-edge tech, platforms and digital systems. Google approached Levi’s to be their first partner for the Jacquard interactive fabric as they knew they could count on us for our expertise, being the inventors of one of the most iconic products in the world: the blue jean. Google did not want to tackle clothing, they wanted to partner with experts in the field.

O. Pop: How did you work with Google on that project?

PD: The great thing about the partnership was that each company was able to own different elements within the project. Levi’s has always been about purposeful design and creating products that meet a consumer need. Since the launch of the Commuter collection in 2012, we have been integrating advanced technologies into our products- and so Commuter felt like the most natural fit for the collaboration. Jacquard is a platform developed by Google which enables the user to program interaction with a device – adjusting music volume, silencing a call, or getting an estimated ETA to their location.

 O. Pop: Do you think this is the start of something big, something everyone will wear in the future?

PD: What is special about Project Jacquard is that the technology is discreetly integrated into a fabric we know, and a garment we already love.  This isn’t “like denim”; this is denim.  Style isn’t sacrificed to achieve technical utility.  First and foremost, these are great-looking Levi’s® jean jackets.  You wear it and care for it just like your other favorite jean jackets.  …and if you get it dirty, you can put it in the laundry. We believe this is an important direction in the evolution of wearable technology.  Useful interface, discreetly integrated with the objects we already know and love, rather than invented “gadgets” that are added to or imposed on our lives and end up in junk drawers.

O.Pop : Comment avez-vous travaillé avec Google sur ce projet ?

P.D : Ce qui était vraiment bien dans ce partenariat est que chaque entreprise a pu amener au projet des élément différents. Levi’s a toujours cherché à concevoir et créer des produits qui répondent à un besoin du consommateur. Depuis le lancement de notre collection Commuter en 2012, nous intégrons les nouvelles technologies dans nos produits. Cette collection Commuter nous paraissait donc naturellement adaptée à cette collaboration. Jacquard est une plateforme développée par Google qui permet à l’utilisateur de programmer lui-même l’interaction avec un périphérique – par exemple, pour ajuster le volume de sa musique, refuser un appel ou demander un itinéraire.

O.Pop : Pensez-vous que c’est le début de quelque chose que tout le monde portera dans le futur ?

P.D : Ce qui est particulier avec Project Jacquard, c’est que la technologie est discrètement intégrée dans un tissu que nous connaissons déjà, et un vêtement que nous aimons déjà. Ce n’est pas “une sorte de jean”, c’est du jean. Le style n’est pas sacrifié au profit de l’utilité technique. Avant toute chose, c’est une belle veste en jean Levi’s. Vous la portez et en prenez soin comme n’importe laquelle de vos autres vestes en jean préférées… Et si elle est sale, vous pouvez la mettre à la machine. Nous pensons qu’il s’agit d’une direction importante dans l’évolution des technologies à porter comme des vêtements. Une interface utile, discrètement intégrée avec les objets que nous connaissons déjà et que nous aimons, bien plus que les “gadgets” inventés qui sont ajoutés ou imposés à nos vies et qui finissent à l’arrière de nos garde-robes.

©Paul Dillinger, Vice President of Levi’s & Jacquard Project

ELSEWHERE ON ORANGE POP

Interview: Eric Schmidt (Alphabet/Google) : « The Internet will disappear »

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3 questions to Jessica Easto, the author who drew the portrait of Elon Musk through her quotes

The 3 questions - January 18, 2017

In Rocket Man: Elon Musk In His Own Words, scheduled for release on Valentines Day, Jessica Easto offers us a portrait of the visionary celeb entrepreneur: a compilation of 100 of his quotes from interviews, speeches, and articles.

Orange Pop: How did you get the idea to make this collection of quotes from Elon Musk ?

J.E: The publisher where I work, Agate Publishing, has a series of books called In Their Own Words. Each book collects the quotations from top entrepreneurs and business leaders around the world. We have books the focus on Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Jack Ma… I thought a book focusing on Elon Musk would be a great addition to the series. I wanted to learn more about him and how he thinks. His choice to pursue these highly improbable endeavors sets him apart from other innovators. In short, his causes seem noble and his success seems improbable. That’s enough incentive for me !

Moreover it’s particularly interesting for Musk to get this treatment. He is known for correcting journalists who, in his view, twist is words or report the facts wrong. He must be hypervigilant of this kind of thing because he is competing against very powerful interests. Also, one of the way he tries to combat misinformation is by explaining things to journalists and the public in as clear of a way as he can.

O. Pop: How did you collect, select and organize all these quotes ? Are some unpublished before ?

J.E: Essentially, I read, listened, and watched everything I could get my hands on. This amounted to hours and hours of audio and video. I focused more on videos and audio recordings of public appearances. As I mentioned, Musk has talking points that he tends to repeat, and his fans can likely recite them almost word for word. I wanted to include those since they seem to represent the foundations of his worldview, but I also include quotes that fans may never heard before. All of them come from sources that are available to the public, but may be lesser known. I organized the book into 10 chapters by subject, including “Learning and Logic”, “Environmentalism and Sustainable Energy”, “Life Lessons”… There are more than 200 quotes in all.

O. Pop: Precisely, what do his quotes and sayings say about him ? Is he really like his reputation, a visionary engineer and a genius entrepreneur ?

J.E: I think his quotes reveal that he is a highly rational, skilled, and principled businessman. People tend to be skeptical of his self-proclaimed mission to ensure a positive future for humanity because 1) that doesn’t sound rational and 2) people tend to think such a claim is pretentious or that it couldn’t possibly be as selfless as it seems. But, after spending hour upon hours listening to Musk speak (from his PayPal days to the present), I’m convinced that he certainly wants to change the world for the better through his companies (and in many ways, he already has) and that guides his business decisions.

Very few business leaders understand the nuts-and-bolts of their products as well as Musk does at Tesla and SpaceX. He believes deeply in his missions, which I think helps him keep up his rigorous work responsibilities. It will be fascinating to see how he continues to innovate the manufacturing sector, especially car manufacturing in the United States. Although he is fabulously wealthy, money doesn’t seem to motivate him in the way it might others, which is an unusual quality for entrepreneurs, at least in the United States.

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© Jessica Easto

 

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3 questions to Artur Sadlos, the legendary illustrator of space’s weirdest life forms

The 3 questions - January 11, 2017

With Conceptverse: Mooeti, Polish artist/illustrator Artur Sadlos dreams up worlds of creatures from far-away galaxies based on traditions and iconography of specific African tribes. We sat down with him to discuss his methods and his work.

Orange Pop: When and why did Conceptverse: Mooeti happen?

Artur Sadlos: Conceptverse: Mooeti started more than three years ago. I did a series of a few illustrations, just for fun. I had no idea they’d lead to bigger things. In one of them, there was a mysterious monk-like figure on an alien world. I liked that idea and over the course of a few months and eventually years I stuck to that impression of a lone, mystical traveler wandering a distant and bizarre world.

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Conceptverse Project © 2005-2016 Artur Sadlos

O. Pop: This project shows alien worlds that resonate with a distinctly African feeling. What inspired you to make that stylistic choice?

AS: That seed was planted ten years earlier when I was a student in art school. For my thesis exhibition, I made paintings of the legends of Dogon (an African tribe). They had this wonderful mythology depicting their beginnings involving an alien race from Proxima Centauri. It intrigued me, and resurfaced years later to spawn the whole Mooeti project. Another important factor is my deep admiration for orientalists. I love their paintings depicting old and distant worlds from a traveler’s perspective. There is something magical about looking at something so foreign, so culturally rich and laden with history.

O. Pop: When you draw alien characters, what are the most important details?

AS: Having a solid base for the alien character is important. Like every character, it needs to have a background, a personal history, and a personality. I suggest a specific cultural history by the outfit, technology or personal belongings. When creating alien biology, it’s essential to really understand biology here on Earth, then change it enough to be weird but believable. And don’t forget purpose. It’s not only about cool-looking appearances (well, sometimes it is): the alien’s role is important too. Is he a monster or an ally, a noble from an advanced race or funny alien dog? Once you answer this question, you can create believable aliens using the design language of our world so it’s easily understood by the general public. The key is understanding how our world works and using that knowledge to make something new.

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Cross my heart – © Artur Sadlos is an earthling

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3 questions to Eric Dupin, founder of dronestagram

The 3 questions - January 04, 2017

On the subject of digital, Éric Dupin is a walking encyclopedia. If you take all his cyber know-how and set it aloft to take aerial photos, well, the sky’s the limit! The founder of dronestagram sat down with us to talk about flight and new tech.

Orange Pop: How did you know drones and aerial photography was the next big thing?

Éric Dupin: I’m very interested in new technologies, and much of my other job, Presse-Citron blogger, is devoted to this. On a personal level, I’ve always liked gadgets and digital devices. The first remote-controlled helicopters arrived on the market in 2008 and could fit in the palm of your hand. I knew this technology would literally take off when they added embedded cameras to the aircraft. And that’s what got me into drones.

As far as technology and its uses, I immediately saw the connection between drones and the smartphones of the early 2000s; at first, only the geeks go for them, but sooner or later the general public hops on board and everyone’s got one. In the last two years the same thing has happened for drones. I realized that with an array of high-performance machines on the market, it’s now possible for everyone to take really unusual photos. On-board cameras allow for close-up photography of generally inaccessible views. The close-up and the wide-angle panorama are the two major assets of drone photography.

Other uses will be adopted by the general public, like dronies, selfies taken from above. Already available, these flying machines can be remotely controlled by your smartphone, which can also display the image the drone camera’s viewfinder is “seeing,” to check the photo before clicking.

O. Pop: You organized the Dronestagram Photo Contest in collaboration with National Geographic, a magazine that often leverages the beautiful (those gorgeous images of nature) for worthy causes (environmental protection).

ED: The first year Dronestagram was operational, we wondered how to attract more visitors to our site. We came up with the idea of a photo contest, but that meant partnering with an international heavyweight in the photo business. National Geographic loved the idea. It provided the magazine with unusual and beautiful photos for their magazine and provided us with a high-visibility contest.

The contest took place in the spring of 2014. This year, we are aiming to get tens of thousands of entrants, both drone professionals and amateurs. At a reasonable cost, anyone can take some pretty eye-popping snaps.

One of our slogans is, “Some want to change the world. We simply want to change the way people look at the world.” For example, you can get up close and personal with the earth’s flora and fauna without being invasive. Drones are discreet and can’t be heard or seen from 30 or more meters away, so they don’t frighten animals. That said, more and more parks in the USA are outlawing drones in their airspace.

O. Pop: Are you considering extending the reach of dronestagram to other platforms?

ED: This spring we’re releasing a book entitled Dronestagram, published by a prestigious English art-book house. It’ll contain the 200 or 300 most beautiful photos on our site and will be available in English, German, Dutch, and French.

We’re also raising funds to develop a smartphone app that would enable users to upload photos and videos directly from the drone to the dronestagram site and to social media. The idea is to anticipate and prepare for the sector’s full potential, i.e. for the new generation of superlight drones, better quality cameras, tightened security, and enhanced-reality options. This is just the beginning; unimaginable wonders await.

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Éric Dupin and Dronestagram Photo Contest 2014 – The winning photo

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5 questions to the editors of jeuxvideo.com

The 5 questions - December 28, 2016

Jeuxvideo.com is the most-visited French-language gaming webzine, the site of reference for enthusiasts of all stripes. The editorial staff reviews new releases, breaks down trends, tests products, and offers loads of rankings and video. Four of them took time out of their busy days to answer our questions and help us compile a Best Of 2016!

Orange Pop: In a scant two months, Pokemon Go was downloaded 500 million times in over 100 countries. The craze kindled by this new off-the-couch-and-into-the-world style of gaming has tapered off in recent weeks, so the question is: was this a summer flash-in-the-pan or a game-changing innovation in entertainment?

 Julien Rateau, mobile project manager: Pokemon Go is a bonafide planetary phenomenon that took the game out of the console and put it in the real world. You go out and chase those critters in the streets, around your park, everywhere. It really took off during the summer, the July release of Niantic Labs magnifying the global trend. Restricting availability only fanned curiosity around the world to the point where almost everybody downloaded Pokemon GO. Despite the predicted decrease, its popularity continues. PoGO, version 2.0, is set to relaunch the planet. Tough to say after a mere 5 months if it’s here to stay or on the wane: optimists and pessimists abound.

O. Pop: With tens of millions of athletes worldwide and their numbers growing daily, eSports are gaining in notoriety and even going professional. The sums at stake are skyrocketing and investors are pouring money into promoting competitions with global audiences. Many, like NBA player and eSports maverick Rick Fox (Echo Fox), think that eSports are going to “become one of the four major sports in the United States.” Why?

François Aymes, eSport journalist: In recent years, eSports have experienced exponential growth because the serious gaming studios are behind them now. League of Legends has generated huge revenues, as have competitions by Riot Games, Blizzard and Valve, encouraging many more developers to hop onboard. With deep pockets and massive audiences, eSports are attracting more and more investment. With the backing of a connected generation, electronic games may well just become as popular as basketball in a matter of years, though its success will surely be measured differently. After all, most of its profits are internet driven, generated and collected.

O. Pop: A virtual reality revolution was predicted for 2016 but didn’t happen. Why? Are the major studios ready and are they willing to open up this new sector?

Yohan Bensemhoun, virtual reality journalist: Indeed 2016 was to be the global VR revolution. The tech is ready and the fans are thirsty for it, but the price tag is prohibitive. With a PS4 starting at €530, it’s still for the 1%. Gamers hoping for the VR experience for under €400 are still waiting, but developers are betting on it and developing the tech. The revolution is coming, it’s just dragging its heels.

O. Pop: What were the major trends (virtual universes, plot lines, and game decors) that emerged in 2016’s crop of video games? And why so?

Yohan Bensemhoun: Drawing big trends from the rich field of video games is no easy feat. Globally in 2016, open world games seem to have a bright future with the magnificent Dark Souls 3, the very good Watch Dogs 2 and the excellent DLC Blood and Wine by The Witcher 3. And 2016 remained a winner for classic football video games like PES and FIFA. First-person shooter games are dominated by CoD, Battlefield and Titanfall. Between console tech innovations, PCs and traditional games going for face-lifts, two sectors stood out: mobile gaming has come of age (Pokemon GO, and the excellent Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes, Naruto Ultimate Ninja Blazing and Final Fantasy, Brave Exvius and Mobius Final Fantasy), and the fledgling success of virtual reality on four brand headsets.

O. Pop: Finally, your Top 5 games for 2016 (all categories)?

Frédéric Goyon, editor-in-chief: This year, the editorial staff is unveiling Best Game 2016 rankings in a special show called Pixels d’Or“. For Best Game of the Year, there are 3 nominations: Dark Souls III, Dishonored 2 and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. If we were to add two games, they’d be Forza Horizon 3 and Inside, and that would get us up to a Top 5:

  1. Dark Souls III(PS4, Xbox One, PC)
  2. Dishonored 2(PS4, Xbox One, PC)
  3. Forza Horizon 3(Xbox One, PC)
  4. Inside (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
  5. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End(PS4)
interview-site-jeux-video-bestof2016

Julien Rateau alias Silent_Jay, François Aymes, Yohan Bensemhoun , Frédéric Goyon

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3 questions to Lawrence Arcuri, the man behind the digital yule log

The 3 questions - December 21, 2016

It’s a 50-year-old tradition in The States – Americans plop down on the sofa to watch “The Yule Log, one long stationary camera shot of a fire burning in the hearth, accompanied by a 4-hour soundtrack (no commercials) of Xmas carols & songs. A look back over this odd-ball yuletide tradition with the guy who knows it best, Lawrence Arcuri.

Orange Pop: How did you discover “The Yule Log“?

Lawrence Arcuri: I first saw it in 1972 when my family moved from Ohio to New Jersey. I was fascinated, and watched the whole program that year, and I’ve watched it every year since. I even kept the faith from 1989 to 2001, when the show was cancelled because it brought in no advertising revenue, by playing a VHS cassette recording of it “to keep the flame alive.” Funny thing is, I began a collection of Xmas music because the tape had deteriorated from being played so many times, and when the tape went kaput in 2006, I was able to restitute it thanks to my collection. To celebrate the program’s 50th birthday, I’ve produced a new 5-hour version of The Yule Log. In my own humble way, I feel like the show’s second father, though I’m lightyears behind original creator Fred Thrower, since gone to brighter pastures.

O. Pop: Why do you think The Yule Log has become so popular in the USA?

LA: It all started in New York, where fireplaces are rare. It enabled New Yorkers to cozy up around the hearth they didn’t have. But it caught on nationwide for two reasons. First, the fire is great – a hearty, crackling, perfectly filmed blaze. The second reason is the soundtrack of magnificent Xmastide music. It’s the combination of these two elements that explains its success. A superb fire without the music wouldn’t cut it, as wouldn’t the reverse. But as is, “The Yule Log” is perfection. I watch it like I do films, from beginning to end, and I can sing all the songs, in order.

O. Pop: Why is it so important to broadcast this show every Xmas Eve?

LA: It’s that special moment when you can sit down and take off your shoes. The cars are parked, the cookies baked, gifts bought, and there’s really nothing left to do but relax and soak up the glow and bask in the holiday spirit with your loved ones. That’s what Xmas is all about and that’s what “The Yule Log”’s all about. Modern life is so hectic you have to take the time to slow down and enjoy life. And it’s a moment of delicious anticipation, too. Some claim the best part of Xmas is looking forward to it. It’s the same for “The Yule Log”: many spend the year looking forward to that special moment

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Lawrence Arcuri and his vinyl Xmas music collection © theyulelog.com

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3 questions to Quentin Delobelle, Orange France’s kitsch-loving dandy

The 3 questions - December 14, 2016

Every year, our buddies over at Orange France Communication dream up an ad campaign for the holiday season. This year they’re rocking the theme Christmas XXL, a multimedia kitsch bonanza, hashtag #BigNoël. We sat down with Quentin Delobelle, Creative and Communications Director and the brains behind these hilarious spots.

Orange Pop: How did you come up with this theme?

Quentin Delobelle: I was inspired by that Hollywood blockbuster “Deck the Halls”. Neighbors were trying to out-do each other in decorating their houses for the Christmas holidays. But there are other influences: when you’re in communications, you have to be in-step with the times. All over France at Christmastime, you see houses decked to the nines with a gazillion lights, Santas, reindeer, snowmen… Some cities like Bourges and Colmar even hold competitions, awarding prizes to the most resplendent dwellings. In the States, there’s a TV show called “The Christmas Light Show”. We’re surfing the yuletide deco wave and bringing you some of the most extravagant examples via smartphones, digital devices and drones.

O. Pop: Some of the “Big Noël” spots are full-bore kitsch, like the one with the Cheesy Guy. What pushed you and your team in this unusual direction?

QD: There’s something of a public attention deficit when it comes to advertisements these days; people just ignore spots where you basically just say, “Buy our product. It’s the best.” If the consumer doesn’t find the ad amusing or interesting, she won’t pay it any attention. One response to this is the new brand-style content ads. We see our spots as a variation of this new theme of life-hacking ads (How-to ads). Obviously the theme of Big Noël is an open invitation to outrageous. For example, we had the PSG’s top football stars yodeling in Christmas sweaters. That’s how I see kitsch: it’s a way of flirting with bad taste by going completely over the top.

O. Pop: What is it about Christmas that brings out the kitsch in everybody?

QD: I think it has to do with the general tone of excess that the holiday season indulges. Christmas has a down-home quality that lends itself to kitsch, an all-out-year-end-bash vibe that gives everyone carte blanche to toss the regular day-to-day rules right out the window. After all there’s something comforting about kitsch and camp. People need to unwind a little at Christmas and let their hair down, the most propitious conditions for kitsch. For example, there’s something of the cozy security blanket about the hand-knit Christmas sweater. And some of the PSG football stars in the Orange ad actually asked if they could keep the Xmas sweater they wore in the spot. But we won’t say which ones!;)

quentin-delobelle-kitsch-publicite-noel-bignoel-orange-france

© Quentin Delobelle, Creative and Communications Director at Orange France

 

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