Get ready to ‘French it!’ with Sofitel

Even established brands like to reach out to their client base and remind them of their core values and USPs off and on. And it can be done in a fun format, like this hotel chain has done, with a series of videos that entertain even as they emphasise ‘living the French way’, which sets Sofitel apart from others in its category.  

The Sofitel brand has long been associated with its French roots, and guests go gaga about the many experiences that are ensconced in the spirit of modern French luxury, be it the hospitality brand’s Le Goûter afternoon teas, fashion and arts partnerships, La Nuit by Sofitel social events, and Sofitel Art de Noël celebrations. And now, they’re wooing today’s travellers with ‘French It!’, a global digital campaign of six stylish short films that spotlight the brand’s passion for arts and culture by bringing the whimsy of the French language to life. The films have dropped across key social platforms including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube, and are the talk of the town with their refreshing take on French idioms that are little known outside of France.

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Bringing the whimsy of the French language to life. Image: Courtesy Accor.

They embody the playful attitude in which the French express themselves, with a selection of quirky phrases creatively captured through a highly conceptual and contemporary lens. Ordinarily only the French would get the true meanings of these terms, which are far from their literal translations: tomber dans les pommes (to faint), poser un lapin (to stand somebody up), ne pas être de la tarte (to be quite stunning), être canon (to be stunning), avoir un coup de foudre (to fall in love), and monter sur ses grands chevaux (to fly into a rage), without these videos to show us how to ‘live the French way’.

A quirky take on ‘Poser un lapin’ (to stand somebody up).

The tongue-in-cheek (and sometimes totally cheeky!) short films feature a collection of confident and powerful women, such as dancer Helena Olmedo Duynslaeger, musician Lomijoh, and Korean art director Moon Kyu Lee.

Sofitel is part of the Accor group, which has more than 5,100 properties and 10,000 food and beverage venues throughout 110 countries. The team at Accor creative studio called Studio 66 worked for six months to prepare this campaign, which they also shot and directed internally. It was shot in Warsaw, with a base at the iconic Sofitel Warsaw Victoria in July this year.

We chatted with Paris-based Alexander Schellenberger, Chief Luxury & Premium Brands Officer, Accor, about the rationale behind creating the films.

Excerpts from the interview.

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Alexander Schellenberger, Chief Luxury & Premium Brands Officer, Accor. Image: Courtesy Accor.

What was the reason behind making these films at this time?

The ambition was to reenergise our ‘Live the French Way’ ethos in a snappier, humorous, and engaging manner. In addition, after the tiring times of the last few years, we felt it was a wonderful opportunity to re-engage and re-incite our markets about the joie de vivre that is inherent within Sofitel’s DNA.

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The ambition was to reenergise our ‘Live the French Way’ ethos in a snappier, humorous, and engaging manner. Image: Courtesy Accor.

How does the Studio 66 hope to reemphasise its Frenchness with these videos?

The creative studio works on all the Accor brands, always going back to the roots and highlighting the unique vision and DNA that lies within each of them. For Sofitel, living the French way remains the key proposition of the brand. The creative studio has expressed it in an actual relevant manner, refreshing it completely.

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The French It! films are the talk of the town with their refreshing take on French idioms that are little known outside of France. Image: Courtesy Accor.

Can you encapsulate the ‘French spirit’ that the brand wants to convey in a few words for our readers?

France has a worldwide reputation for its luxury, its fashion, its wines and gourmet dining, as well as for its wellbeing. Sofitel is the pioneering and global ambassador of French savoir-faire and art de vivre in the hospitality industry. This ‘Frenchness’ is the attribute most frequently praised by our guests and most often mentioned within their feedback, so we know this is a key part they value in their customer experience.

The film portraying Monter sur ses Grands Chevaux (to fly into a rage).

How has the campaign been created to appeal to viewers in various countries/regions?

We believe anyone can ‘Live the French Way’, beyond nationalities. It is about embracing some values which constitute the ‘Frenchness’, in an inclusive way: free spirit, style, audacity, sensuality, a sense of culture. That’s why we featured absolutely no French person in the cast. We tapped into the consumer trends of ‘self-enlightenment’ and ‘discovery’ to appeal and connect with our audience universally through humour and cultural learning. This is why we went for some engaging and fun lessons in French.

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Sofitel believes anyone can ‘Live the French Way’, beyond nationalities. It is about embracing some values which constitute the ‘Frenchness’, in an inclusive way: free spirit, style, audacity, sensuality, a sense of culture. Image: Courtesy Accor.

Tell us why you chose to feature female achievers for this campaign?

We selected the talent through the lens of the brand’s chic and passionate personality. ‘French It!’ differs by showing a more playful and edgier side as well as the championing of diverse, powerful and confident women as the stars of the campaign each of whom embody what it is like to ‘Live the French Way’. The all-female cast is also a reaction to the traditionally more masculine representation of luxury and business travel. Sofitel’s image building has contributed a strong female target (60% F | 40% M) and we continue to speak to these empowered women through this campaign.

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The all-female cast is also a reaction to the traditionally more masculine representation of luxury and business travel. Image: Courtesy Accor.

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