Maurice Lévy, the head of the media giant Publicis, whose company owns Saatchi and Saatchi and has offices in 100 countries across six continents, said France had failed to get the 2012 Olympics because the world now saw it as a nation of perdants – “losers”.
For good measure, he described the 35-hour week as “absurd” and the wails of complaint that followed Paris’s loss of the Games to London as “pathetic”.
“What I wrote was hard, but true. France is not in a crisis, it’s worse than that. A crisis is usually sudden and short, while we are in an endemic situation,” he said. “I’ve just had enough and wanted to say what I felt.”
In the article, Mr Lévy said the French had only themselves to blame for losing the Olympics, and that the country needed a wake-up call. “We have narrowed and stunted ourselves and we paint ourselves as losers, and no one wants to be among the losers. It’s time we opened our eyes wide, took an icy shower and looked reality in the face: we are in decline, going down a slippery slope.
“The Ministry of Economy, Finance and Industry has reminded us of our [public] debt and the fact that we are living beyond our means. We knew the figures, yet no government for the last 20 years has wanted to draw a conclusion from them. The figures that attest to our decline are known to all.”
Or, as Tom Palmer once explained on an ABC News special
- What they’re doing is turning the whole country into a big theme park. You go to Franceland. You have the cheese, you have the wine, you look at some castles, it’s a lovely place to visit. But does much new come out of France anymore, is it dynamic? No.