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Who is this guy?

If you ever take the metro in Paris, you’ve probably seen these giant advertisements and wondered, “Who the hell is that old dude with the dreds and the sunglasses?” The French version of Grateful Dead? Nope. And he’s not selling Harley’s or even sunglasses. Nope. If you read the small print, you’ll see he’s the PDG (director) of the company Invicta, which sells fireplaces and stove heaters.

Okay. So why is his head bigger than the fireplaces he’s supposedly trying to sell? Being a foreigner, I assumed for many years that he was simply “famous in France” and I was a clueless Anglophone. Mais non. The French don’t know who he is, either.

One French commentator on the site paperblog.fr said it best (rough translation): “Over half of the 3 x 4 meter metro billboard of this stove manufacturer is taken up by the face of the company’s director, Jean Pierre Dupire. For some companies, their best image is that of their leader. But the problem is that Dupire is not known for anything. Worse, his trying-to-be-cool dreadlocks-beard-sunglasses style looks pretty silly next to the three small stoves in the ad. In short, this bad visual makes you almost forget the play on words of the slogan which just hangs there rotting. If the goal is to get people talking about the company, why not? Their only miscalculation: I’m not sure that Parisians are big consumers of stove heaters in their apartments.”

The newest poster (sorry for the resolution, I was across the tracks) has him with two women, and the vomit-inducing slogan: “Mes poêles les séduisent!” (They’re seduced by my stoves). Ugh. Please, someone, make it stop!

4 Comments

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  • I was equally perplexed until a French friend told me, like Svraka said in the comment above, that it’s a play on the words poêles (stove) and poiles (hairs). Dreadlocks like that are almost never seen in France and are hardly considered sexy, so I think this guy is actually kind of mocking himself. Or maybe I’m just an optimist…

  • I thought the ad was a play on words: mes poêles (my stoves) vs mes poiles (as in "hair" except that in French it is used to signify more hair on your body)

  • It’s part of the local vainglorious cult of personality where the CEO is more important than the product itself. At least in everyone’s eyes but the consumer.

  • My girlfriend and I recognise him from the north of France, les Ardennes to be exact, and his product is a good one. Why on earth he has started selling himself in a ‘Peter Stringfellow-esque’ way, rather than his more attractive product, is anyone’s guess – I can only assume he got some very odd advice.He also has TV adverts…Then again, I have just taken a look at the Invicta website (http://www.invicta-sa.com/) and it does demonstrate a good sense of humour (watch the opening video). Whether that will sell his stoves or not who knows?

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