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French ad guru & Slovak president

December 17, 2002

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PARIS: Down and out Socialist candidates in upcoming presidential elections wherever you are in the world, there’s a French communications adviser who’s quite likely to get you elected, no matter how far behind the polls say you are.

Jacques Seguela, a founder of the Euro RSCG advertising agency, one of the world’s largest, and the man who engineered the 1981 come-from-behind victory by Francois Mitterrand in France, says that if Slovenia’s new President Janez Drovneck got elected on Dec 8, it’s largely of his doing. A victory, adds Seguela, that now allows him to boast of an incredible record of sixteen victories in the 18 election campaigns where he’s served as communications adviser during the past quarter-century.

Seguela, who became a household word in France, and much of Europe, in 1981 for having designed the “Tranquil Force” campaign that allowed Francois Mitterrand to stage his surprise victory over incumbent Valery Giscard d’Estaing, also says that President Drovneck’s 57 per cent victory in the Slovenian presidential poll also allowed him to “make amends” for the catastrophic showing last Spring of his last PR client, French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin. Jospin, counselled by Seguela and a number of other principals of Euro RSCG — an agency that has a tendency to support and advise leftwing candidates like Drovneck — managed only a third- place showing in the first round of French presidential elections last April that resulted in a second-round faceoff between rightwing extremist Jean-Marie Le Pen and incumbent President Jacques Chirac who went on to be easily re-elected by an 82-18 per cent score.

Indeed, Seguela says that if he decided to “go all out” to bring about the better-than-expected showing by Drovneck in the Dec 8 presidential election, it was because Drovneck, also until now the country’s prime minister, and a man known well by Seguela the past 10 years, “resembled very much Lionel Jospin, and this in his sense of rigour and his serious nature, so given the lessons of Prime Minister Jospin’s defeat, I was well prepared to not repeat the mistakes we made in advising Lionel Jospin last April.”

One of the focuses of Seguela’s campaign was Slovenian television, on which Drovneck made ample use of commercials, 30 in all were broadcast in a country where political advertising on TV is quite a novelty, notes Seguela.