Monday, November 15, 2010

French Sports & Tourism Media

By: Simone Spilka, Keven Contreras, Erik Ramirez, & Andres Gomez

“The changing organization of the Tour De France and its media coverage”

In this reading we have an interview between writer Marchetti Dominique and ex-rider ex-journalist of Tour de France, Jean-Marie Leblanc. The interview begins with the discussion of the several effects that television has had on the media coverage of the Tour. “The change I have seen more concretely has been the movement towards… I won’t say all-TV but the preponderance of TV coverage”. Leblanc tells us that television coverage helped the Tour because it made the Tour a lot more popular and widespread. There were three stages of media coverage of the Tour that Leblanc calls the “three golden periods”. First was texts and photos, second was the radio, and third was television. Television had the advantage that it allowed its viewers to see the aesthetics of the Tour which were the landscapes, the climbs and descents, the bridges, and the castles that all the riders went through. None of the other types of medias did this as well as television. “I often say that television magnifies the Tour” (Leblanc).

Leblanc says that most of the changes in television coverage from when he was in media are the technological advancements in television. For example cameras on helicopters, on extendable cranes and the close ups. He also mentions the high level of professionalism that these people have in using these new equipments. Most of the changes came after the 1960s because before there was only simple coverage on the Tour whereas today the entire Tour is televised. Before the Tour was mainly a sporting competition but today it is “also a kind of social phenomenon which is therefore to be put in the context of other factors, such as tourism, culture, emotion, history and issues…”. Overall there have not been any direct negative effects on the Tour itself from television media. On the contrary the effects of television on the media coverage have been of great economic gain for the Tour. At the end of the 1980s and beginning of the 1990s was when the initiative for the privatization of state-controlled television channels began which lead to high competition for the rights.

Lastly, Leblanc talks about the effects of television media against written media coverage of the Tour. He says that today it is much more difficult for journalist to create an appealing piece of work since everything spectators need can be seen on TV or the internet. According to Leblanc this leads journalists to be tempted into a “slippage of ethics” which is writing more in the direction of the spectacular and emotional rather than the truth. Today the written press only has interviews to rely on as something they can legitimately write about. In the interview they also discuss how the media coverage of doping has had positive effects because of the involvement of institutions like sports authorities, scientist, the EPO, the UCI and others to regulate. Overall Leblanc is satisfied with the effects of television media on the Tour because it has had more positive effects on the Tour than negative ones.

Brand Europe: Moves Towards A Pan-European Identity

The article, written by Rudiger Thielmann, illustrates how the marketing strategy and audience experience of branding can give value to intangible objects, such as celebrities or countries. The author discusses how the concept of place-branding, or the audience driven process of branding countries and destinations, is applicable in a commercially ruled society. Place-branding has two distinct facets where “‘the aim of destination-branding is to attract visitors and boost tourism while country-branding promotes economic, commercial, and political interests at home and abroad’” (98).

The clearest distinction between consumer-product-branding and place-branding is in terms of consumer marketing and the ability to manage the audience experience, otherwise known as manageability. There are three distinct sources of place-branding, which are all influenced by the audience experience. The mass media coverage of an area is highly manageable as journalists are able to control the information that is presented to the public. On the other hand, the direct experience of reality for individuals with a place possesses low manageability for multiple reasons. There can be no precise brand image of a place because people all have varying experiences, interests, or reasons for travel. The audience of place-branding may be tourists, businessmen, or investors who have some previous knowledge of the country, region, or city. Further, interactions with locals could change their experience as a whole. As these residents play a key role in the experience of the visitors it is possible that their actions can further promote tourism and positive associations with the place.

Specific events or representations for the purpose of drawing media focus may be a marketing strategy that influences the audience’s involvement with a place. For example, an event in size magnitude of the Olympics is highly advertised and connected with the location where it occurs. This would trigger an overwhelming amount of media coverage, indirectly leading the audience to have an alternative perception than the previous associations once held with the country. A consumer brand item would fail to deliver a similar and equally massive response from the media and thus the audience.

Branding is significant because without the specific label or connotation to an object, tangible or intangible, it loses its value. Whether market-driven or audience-driven, branding is influenced by the audience experience. In reference to place-branding of countries in Europe the author explains, “the similarity of places and of their promotional campaigns may allow the creation of more transnational brands: brands which unite such similar places and distinguish them from more distant and different places” (101). Therefore, it is more difficult to establish solid place-branding features for similar European countries.

The Racing Driver and his Double

The Formula One is the highest class of single seat auto racing. The author, Jean Baudrillard, explains how it is a lot more than just race, it is a way that the work of man and a machine have meshed to become one ultimate creation of speed, control, and adrenaline. Technology is constantly progressing and evolving pushing humans to their limits, but at the same time it is creating a passion between man and machine. Though it comes down to one man and one car, Formula One is a team effort where the efforts of thousands of crewmembers put their hopes into one driver, one car, and one race. Being a Formula One driver is a compilation of concentration, serenity, and adrenaline. Being in the car is a lot different than watching it on television. Now days one can enjoy the sensation of being in the cockpit through the television and technology, yet it is up to the real driver to concentrate on his one goal: finishing in first.

A reason for why people watch Formula One is because of the hype that the media creates with regards to the dangers of this sport. The media has been able to create an excitement in people over the dangers and risks that exist. It is these “unpredictable elements” that the media has created in order to spark an interest in its audience (169). Formula One is a lot about commercials and technicalities, but it is the suspense and unpredictability of the sport that produces an audience. Baudrillard states that there is not much excitement in seeing something go fast but rather it is the illusion that has been created that keeps its audience entertained.

Formula One is close to reaching its pinnacle. It seems to have reached such a repetitive state, that it is like it has been perfected and it cannot get any further. However, the passion for the sport seems to be alive and will continue to live as long as television and media can create an illusion that appeals to people.

Making Mass Vacations: Club Med
Club Med, short for Club Méditerraneé, was founded in 1950 by a Belgian Jewish diamond cutter named Gérard Blitz. He founded Club Med as a place for people to escape their daily lives and rediscover themselves in a new stress-free environment. Experience gained from operating a rehabilitation clinic for concentration camp survivors made it easier for Blitz to establish Club Med. Club Med was the first company to offer a “vacation experience” that was equal to all customers and it started the industry of commercial tourism.

The first village was located in Majorca, Spain back when Club Med was still a non-profit organization. Vacationers stayed in surplus military tents and slept in cots while engaging in recreational activities during the day. Vacationers were known as gentils membres(GMs) and employees were known as gentils organizateurs(GOs). The aim of the community was to eliminate class and make everyone equal much like Communism. One of the slogans was, “there are no social differences when everyone is in a bathing suit.”

In the late 1950’s, Club Med became more financially driven and opened its first luxury “hotel village” in 1965. The theme became more ancient Polynesian/ Tahitian style with huts replacing the old army tents. All evidence of work and other stress inducers were eliminated or hidden from GM’s so that they could better relax and enjoy the experience. The people who were able to a afford to stay at Club Med were young and came from the middle class. Unique hierarchies were also created favoring “the economically advantaged, physically vigorous, ’attractive,’ and ‘modern’” along with creating a division between GM’s who were vacationing and the locals which were the workers.

Club Med helped make “the vacation” an integral part of mass consumer culture in France. Even though the target audience became more and more wealthy, most French people felt they were entitled to a vacation as a right and not just a luxury. Siegfried argued that the transformation of vacations into a mass produced consumer product was evidence of mass cultural manipulation and consumer passivity.(p.286) The author, Ellen Furlough, disagreed and saw the vacation as “an exemplary consumer good and practice within a modern liberal democracy.”

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