The French Logo Malfunction
Readers with elephantine memories will have no trouble recalling that last summer in this space I launched a jeremiad against the freshly-minted graphical identity for the French Government Tourist Office. Those just arriving, or regulars now scratching their heads, are encouraged to wade through the gory details. Note that there will be a short quiz at the end of this post to ensure you soaked up all the historical bits.
Here's where we are in a nut (snail?) shell. Last summer, France joined the ranks of countries having a graphical identity that embodies the delights of a touristic visit. For France, being the world's most popular tourist destination, this represented a non-trivial task, both for those managing the design project, and for the designers themselves. The result, shown below, was to my eyes far from a success, not least because it traded heavily on the mythic French image of Marianne, here in harness (or rather, out of it) to flog the wonders of French tourism.
Recently I stumbled across the logo again and did the proverbial double-take: "What th'...?!," as they say in the comics. Compare the new version below and spot the subtle, and not so subtle, changes.
This new version was launched earlier this year, the byproduct of an upcoming fusion between the Maison de la France, which serves as a promotional agency for tourist travel to France, and ODIT France, responsible for handling the professional side of travel, such as stats, deciding what hotels get a five-star rating, and so on. Stick with me, this will get duller. The two outfits were apparently crammed together into a basement office in a bad suburb of Paris (kidding!) to create some new entity that we're told "has ambitious plans for a better coordinated and more efficient public policy in order to respond to the challenges posed to French tourism." Challenges. Like running out of snails in the high season?
Anyway, this freshly-minted agency, which no doubt has fewer workers but more managers, in the grand fashion of such things, was given the blindingly obtuse name of, wait for it, Atout France. What does that do for you? As background, "atout" can be stuck in front of just about anything to signal comprehensiveness. So Atout Escargots... well, you get the idea. But for the rest of humanity, that moniker will mean less than zero. But back to the logo.
It's true that when we deliver a blistering screed here in the blogs, entire governments tremble. So it would be nice to think that the French authorities took our earlier post to heart and subsequently decided to display Marianne just from the head up. But it was probably more a case of the classic administrative qualities of timidity and the need to meddle. Did you spot the deadening hand of committee-think elsewhere in the new version? That's right, the lower f in France now looks more a capital, turning it into one butt-ugly letter. And the star/starfish thingy is bigger. Hey, maybe there are other changes; if you spot them, feel free to share. Me, I'm too discouraged to look at this thing any longer. Especially since I had the misfortune to also see the logo for Atout France (which explains the darker blue in the new tourisim logo).
What would Strunk & White think about me using "What th'...?!" twice in one post?