Advertising culture(s) in French as a foreign language classroom: “France is in the air”, analysis of a campaign
Keywords:French as a foreign language (FFL), advertising, marketing, intercultural communication, socio-semantic analysis, Air France
Advertising generally relies on unique content and scenarios in the form of ‘artefacts’ that are ideally suited for raising awareness of cultural otherness and helping recipients to develop and understand the societal values in a particular setting. In the context of foreign language teaching, using advertisements has proven to be a particularly rich means for students to explore the full range of characteristics this phenomenon has to offer. This article presents didactic approaches to exploring the intercultural dimension in French as a foreign language (FFL) classes by focusing on the “France is in the Air” campaign of Air France. Seen from a comparative perspective, the campaign features many elements of the ‘French Exception’ theme to communicate various forms of emotion (dream, escape, romanticism – French advertising generally has strongly compelling affective and sentimental arguments), visual and verbal aesthetics, cultural narcissism, showmanship (‘spectacle’), seduction, love, and humour. It aims to convey national values abroad and symbolically portrays the elusive ideal of a glorified, mythical and timeless France to its target audience. When seen from a socio-semantic angle, the Air France campaign suggests that, above all, the nation is searching for identity and meaning while at the same time expressing eternal nostalgia for the greatness of a bygone era.
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