In business, as in romance, the French are masters of seduction
‘Were your parents architects, because you sure are well-built?” says the seductive cartoon woman. “Nice line. Can I offer you a drink?” says the well-built cartoon German. He then introduces himself: “Furt. Frank Furt.”
As promotionals go, it’s hard to find worse than this hammy, awkward, toe-curling effort. It’s the brainchild of Frankfurt Main Finance, a body tasked with promoting Frankfurt as a financial centre. With Brexit casting uncertainty over the City of London, its continental rivals are making moves to poach business.
Unfortunately, Frankfurt’s reputation as a truly tedious place to live is clearly hindering its efforts. Goldman Sachs boss Lloyds Blankfein might claim to enjoy the weather, but his bankers are crossing their fingers that they don’t have to be the ones to move there.
This, according to Frank Furt’s sales pitch, is very unfair. “I enjoy
France’s proposition for banks is simple: move here and we’ll cut your taxes
dishes from all over the world,” he says: “Modern architecture. High-end shopping suites. Bustling farmers’ markets… Exciting events.” The woman persists: “Aren’t you really provincial?”
“What!” he exclaims. “Do I look like a farmer?”
Germany’s bustling financial juggernaut is home to the European Central Bank, Mr Furt boasts, before adding, implausibly: “Dozens more banks are on the way!” If Frankfurt wanted to make itself look amateur, second-rate and desperate, this advert would be a good place to start.
London shouldn’t get too comfortable, though, because when it comes to mercantilist economic policy, the French really know what they are doing. Rather than producing embarrassing videos, France has a simple proposition for banks: move here and we’ll cut your taxes. And if you don’t, we’ll make it impossible for half of your business to operate. And it has been hammering home these messages up and down its government and regulatory structure for two years. That’s what a real commercial threat looks like.
Frank Furt’s dismal chat-up lines are unlikely to woo bankers