Updated: Mar 31
Among engineering and innovation leadership posts, I would like to take 5 minutes to tell you the true message of #EmilyInParis.
Spoiler Alert - Don't read before watching the first few episodes of #EmilyInParis It may give you another and much better understanding of why this is a good TV show and how it could evolve better in a second season.
So the plot is easy, a young american girl goes to Paris to lead the social marketing activities of a French luxury brands promotion agency. Emily is smart, creative, astute and has amazing maturity. If you are like me over 40 years old, it reminds you that time to time, we get lucky to worked with those young and passionate colleagues.
So, watching the show and putting yourself in the shoes of Emily, you empathize on all the injustice she is getting through in a ruthless environment of mean colleagues and managers... You know what... I got the flash-back of the "Karate Kid" plot around the young guy moving to a new city and striving to get accepted. And for those who are really fan of Karate Kid and have seen the reference in "how I met your mother" (or watched Cobra Kai), you know that the real bullied is the local guy who lost his girlfriend and got punish by his stepfather while being spoiled by his mother who compensates the lack of love.
Back in in #EmilyInParis, I invite you to change you perspective toward the real interesting character of the show, Emily's manager, Sylvie Grateau. And first to say that in 1995, Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu was a feminine icone... the same as Lily Collins 25 years later. Second, in 1995, Sylvie Grateau fictional character was certainly the one that brought live the concept of luxury marketing and this, at a time where old style branding male specialists were still putting a nice product in a middle of a poster featuring few attributes... not at all speaking to their target customers. During 20 years Sylvie has grown herself in a Marketing Gourou, one the best in the world and recognized by the major Luxury brands in Paris. See here Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu Paris Match 1993:
When you think about Louis Vuitton in the 1990s, it was a struggling company. And thus visionary people were courageous enough to onboard young and talented marketing disruptors. As a results, 25 years later, they own Luxury empires such as LVMH, Kering, Chanel, Hermes... In this context of France taking the leadership of word Luxury, Sylvie Grateau is the managing director of "Savoir" the leading agency in the sector. An agency is mostly an intangible asset, therefore when the American company buy "Savoir", they mostly buy Sylvie Grateau know-how, expertise and network. You can see in the first episode that the Frenchman, founder of the agency, is happy to get the money and leave her managing director Sylvie Grateau taking over.
Unfortunately, if you have been affected by any M&A, you always now that the first ones to be kicked out are among the top management. The main reason is often for acculturation from one company to the other... and often with the consequence to loose key people. You can see it clearly when one of the first thing Emily does is bringing the new code of conduct of the American company to the French agency .... instead of having a collective intelligence workshop to define together the new rules. Come-on ... what do companies for take-over .... they send young consultants to clean-up, suck-up all knowledge from senior colleagues and replace them. Maybe you remember the movie "up in the air" with Anna Kendrick and George Clooney.. same story... Therefore as a consequence of the M&A, you can see how Sylvie Grateau is stressed out. And if she smokes so many cigarettes, skip lunch or doesn't sleep its not about lifestyle but anxiety.
Of course Sylvie Grateau don't really understand social media marketing... who does understand Tik Tok among people over 40 years old ;) ... we just know that if its parent company ByteDance is valued 80 Billions dollars, we should give attention and credit to young gifted colleagues who can navigate it. Therefore, the same as Sylvie Grateau moved the line with marketing 25 years ago, Emily the digital native, is entrusted to disrupt the luxury brands model. Sylvie knows that Emily is a young talent, she knows her qualification and previous work in pharmaceuticals and believes she can turn this knowledge to luxury branded. Therefore, while Emily is still a junior colleague, Sylvie keep involving her in all meetings with customers.
So Emily don't realize yet, but she got herself the best mentor she could even think about. Unlike her american boss who looks like a "Slice of bread", Emily is, with Sylvie, under the wing of a successful, visionary resilient woman, with fluent mastery of international business as proven by her perfect English and ready to help Emily to grow to the next level and learn by herself like every great mentor will do. You can see that she constantly challenges Emily for her to grow, to make her own mistake and learn fast, she fires Emily knowing you can't fire people and expects in Emily a wake up call for her to Excel over her limits. Sylvie Grateau gives also a lot of autonomy and accountability to Emily who signs the warrant for a millions euros watch... and when things turned bad, she has got Emily's back and don't blame her but emphasize the learning.. by doing that Sylvie is teaching Emily how to take calculated risks. Who could think about a better mentor ? In a world dominated by male in business... see all those CEO of luxury brands portraited in the show... Sylvie has managed to make her feminine values an invaluable asset and she is ready to teach Emily how to leverage hers too. If you like this topic... I recommend the post of Stephanie Mitrano on feminine values: https://www.icopilots.com/innovation-mindset/innovation-culture-needs-feminine-values-19065
What you can also see is how Emily learns fast from her mentor... invited as an Instagram inflencer by a Luxury brand, she realizes quickly that social media marketing is more than a number of followers. She explains that influencers are their own brands promoting themselves using Luxury items as a mean, oppositely social media marketing use Instagram as a tool to promote the brand... These key facts, Emily has learned them from Sylvie Grateau when being involved in each every meetings and decisions.
So what do you think about he show now ? Looking from this angle, it makes it much more interesting, we really want to see what happen next with #EmilyInParis.
As a frenchman and as cynical as the show wants to describe us.... here is my guess.. and please american colleagues.. see a bit of humour. So, one option I see for the next season is that we have #EmilyInSingapore to please Asian markets (and product placement), those Shangai friends of Emily who are the real target of french Luxury brands... Actually a true Parisian don't wear Vuitton or Chanel ... they were much discrete elitist designer brands ... see here brands like Sézane, Veja, Rivieras or Ysé.. https://www.glamour.com/gallery/french-clothing-fashion-brands
See the show season 2 plot, Emily is promoted to take over the Singapore office having learned best practices from her mentor Sylvie... having a timid obedient intern, she can't mentor as much as she would like, she also has lost all her Instagram followers, Singapore being not that glamour... to compensate she makes a lot of money and can finally afford the brand she wears in the show (with her previous Parisian salary, she could only afford second-hand Chanel neckless on www.vinted.com). At the same time the American company use Emily notes about Paris office to lay-off Sylvie Grateau and replace her with Madeline Wheeler, the "Slice of bread" American former boss of Emily who has a bachelor in French literature... Madeline moves with husband and kids, in a nice 80 square meter flat in Boulogne, a nice suburb of Paris but you can say goodbye to the lovely Pantheon area and the cool neighbors. Now.. that is the real life as a Parisian and between two cool café where you'll pay a glass of wine 12 euros, you'll have a kebab and a PMU, no Uber available while being stucked in traffic and a busy subway journey with some rude men commenting on your butt nicely popped by your Louboutin high heels... And I am not talking about Madeline's husband taking a job in Saint-Denis Stade de France business area working for Paris 2024 Olympics USA office... while drug and prostitute traffic is dismantled next door.. watch Engrenages/Spiral show and you'll get the real postcard of Paris....