Friday, June 25, 2010


This week's perspective from Joe Chidley:

Typically in this space we like to discuss the subtle nuances of communications strategy and tactics. Often, our calls on the communications plays of the week are matters of opinion, based though they are on our unique expertise and experience. This entry, however, is not among those debatable points—because it ranks among those rare cock-ups that are true communications disasters. We speak, of course, of the French debacle at the World Cup. What is with these gars? First, player Nicolas Anelka criticized (or verbally abused—take your pick) coach Raymond Domenech in the dressing room, for which sin the French Football Federation suspended the striker, after which the captain of the team, Patrice Evra, said the problem wasn’t just France’s dismal play or Mr. Anelka’s temper but rather the “traitor” who leaked the argument to the media. After which the players boycotted a practice session. After which Mr. Domenech called his own team a bunch of imbeciles (a word that sounds even nastier in French). After which les Bleus went on to a winless World Cup, losing their final (meaningless) match to South Africa. After which Mr. Domenech, who appears to be one of those characters you would love to sympathize with if only he weren’t so personally disagreeable, refused to shake hands with the South African coach. The affair is so rife with errors, bad ideas and loose lips that it’s hard to place blame for it, because the whole thing seems so, well, imbecilic. Was nobody in charge of the message? Did nobody think to have a measured and reasoned response to the charges against the coach or the football federation? Mais non. The lack of discipline on the team was mirrored by a lack of discipline in the media strategy (I use the term loosely). Highly entertaining, but at the expense of the reputation of an entire country. For somehow managing to make Italy (also booted from the Cup) look downright stoic, France’s Grand Guignol show in South Africa deserves a special citation. Fumble, or a Red Card, to les Bleus.

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