Ex-NATO chief, former U.S. Homeland launch campaign against election meddling

Former NATO chief Anders Rasmussen and ex-U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff sounded the alarm over meddling in elections by Russia and other nations during a meeting with the AAPA on November 12.

“Russia has declared war against our democratic system,” Rasmussen, a former Danish prime minister said. “Putin wrongly sees our values as a threat.”

Rasmussen and Chertoff have teamed up with former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and former Mexican President Felipe Calderon to create an international commission that aims to raise awareness of cyber-interference in democracies and to explore technological solutions to the threats.

Emphasizing that technology is making it easier and easier to manipulate reality, they demonstrated a fake audio recording of U.S. President Donald Trump announcing a nuclear exchange with Russia, which they said is spending at least 10 times more in election meddling via social media than the European Union is spending to defend its democracies.

Rasmussen noted that there are 20 key elections on the calendar before 2020, including EU Parliamentary elections and two polls in Ukraine next year. “Put simply, artificial intelligence could make interference tactics available to anyone with just a bit of technological knowledge,” Rasumussen said.

The Danish statesman noted that Russia is not the only nation investing in election meddling and cited Iran and North Korea, and he said that while NATO had taken steps to counter cyber-meddling, it had not done enough.

Speaking the day after a ceremony in France commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One, Rasmussen predicted the Atlantic Alliance would survive the Trump presidency even if, according to him, there is a risk that he could win re-election in 2020. “In the worst case, he will be around until 2024,” Rasmussen said.

-Nelson Graves


JCDecaux bosses talk Vélib, bus shelters, bundling, and the digital revolution

The two leading executives of JCDecaux, the global out-of-home (OOH) advertising company, held an on-the-record briefing at their Paris Headquarters for the Anglo-American Press Association of Paris.

The executives are sons of the founder: Jean-Francois Decaux, aged 59, is the Co-CEO and Jean-Charles Decaux, aged 49, is the President of the Board, and the Co- General Director,

Some topics covered:

On the mission of the company:

  • “Our content provides a better way of living for citizens in cities by giving them services for free to them [like bus shelters, public bathrooms, and other ‘street furniture.]
  • “The notion of beautification is important to us. We work with famous architects. [Our street furniture] is a piece of design with the aesthetic that less is more…. We believe in cleanliness and never subcontract our maintenance.”

Bundling vs. unbundling services:

JCDecaux is in three broad categories of advertising out-of-home: Street furniture; Billboards; and Transport. They have built their company on bundling the services together as much as they can when bidding for business, as they have synergies among the services in a given city or neighborhood in terms of sharing their costs in maintenance, personnel and in ad selling.

However, the trend now is for cities to unbundle the contracts so they can get more competitive (cheaper) pricing so that the company has to make decisions to compete for this unbundled business – or not – and for them they generally do not.

Jean-Francois expressed skepticism about the effectiveness for cities of working with many vendors for the same physical fixture.

  • He said that the situation in London for them (where they only have the physical bus shelters) is not ideal since they did not get the maintenance contract.
  • He also talked about the city of Paris separating the bike rental market from the advertising market, so that now the city does not get the bike service for free, but has to pay for that service – hoping to make up the money in the ad revenue they receive from another company.


JCDecaux out-of-door business is being deeply affected by the digital revolution in media, and Jean-Francois called their strategy Physical + Digital or Phygital strategy.

  • Street furniture is being equipped to receive live information for display, which not only broadcasts the advertisements, but gives citizens information about air pollution, traffic and the weather as it is happening.
  • The operating margin was 23% in 2013 but dropped to 19% in 2017 because “We are in the middle of a major transition to digital,” said Jean-Charles.
  • The company is launching programmatic ad selling in the out-of-home categories. The managers said that right now 0% of OOH is sold that way, although in digital advertising, much more than 50% of advertising is sold that way. They see programmatic as the future across all ad categories. They are rolling out their platform in the U.K. called Viooh (pronounced View.) Jean-Francois says this “new IT platform means we will be going in a direction which we have never gone before.”

Global, but specialized, and multi-local

JCDecaux “is the largest firm in the world for out-of-home advertising. And we are only about 13-14% of the global market. So there is a lot of room for us to grow and to consolidate. There are no frontiers,” said Jean-Charles.

The brothers talked about their decision to stay focused as a pure player on OOH, with the goal to gain market share geography by geography in their space. At this time, their vision crashed head-to-head of that of CBS/Clear Channel which was to own media across all media – OOH, cable, TV, Radio other areas. Jean-Francois pointed out that Clear Channel is now in chapter 11.

-by Ava Seave

Adjunct Associate Professor, Columbia Business SchoolAdjunct Assistant Professor, Columbia Journalism School.

Ava, who closely follows JCDecaux's doings,  came along as a guest to the AAPA meeting with the Decaux brothers.



Professor Greenwald talks to AAPA members about big economic issues

On October 15, the AAPA met Columbia University Professor Bruce Greenwald, a leading authority on global economics and "value investing" -- the art, or science, of picking stocks, as Warren Buffett amazingly seems to do, that have been forgotten or sidelined but are potential winners.

In our 90-minute breakfast meeting at Falstaff Café, Prof. Greenwald touched on a wide range of big economic issues, including globalisation, export-driven economic models and varying rates of productivity, but also spoke of the urgent need to address demography and how it deeply affects climate change.   If these problems go unaddressed, mass-migration flows like those we saw in Europe in 2015 are bound to re-occur, he maintained.  To alleviate over-population, he put forward the idea that IMF could distribute pension payments to retirees in, say Africa, to ease the requirement for subsequent generations to provide for the elderly.

He also shed light on an angle of female empowerment: data shows that women are far more adaptable than men to shifting social circumstances and to the changing economic model where growth in jobs will be in services (versus manufacturing).  On income distribution Greenwald told members leaders need to address income inequality and labor force training from a policy standpoint rather than try to make business do it through legislation & penalties, which depress business efficiency and generally don't work.   His thoughts seemed to be that only if governments provide this labor support in the form of earned income credit can service sector workers make a decent wage.

On Brexit, Prof. Greenwald said Britain's exit from the EU doesn’t necessarily need to be the death knell of the UK economy.  If Britain keeps its doors open to talented and well-trained migrants, it could ride out the problems of Brexit, he said.  He suggested Britain look at the Canadian Model for migrants as part of the solution.

In a final note, Prof. Greenwald revealed the first book he recommends to his Columbia Business School students.  It's 'Pride and Prejudice' -- a novel about self-deception, and self-deception, he said, is the single biggest source of making mistakes.

Also present at the talk was Prof. Greenwald's wife, Ava Seave, who has co-authored one book with him, the analytic work The Curse of the Mogul: What’s Wrong with the World’s Leading Media Companies.  Asked if we can expect an update edition of this work, Seave noted: We have to see how this wave of consolidations works out.  Stay tuned.

-Catherine Field

-Pictures by Thomas Haley


Farewell to Sara Llana

Members of the AAPA gathered recently for a picnic in Paris’ Buttes Chaumont Park to say farewell to Sara Llana who’s been a member for several years. Sara served as secretary general and established the club’s monthly Friday night happy hour tradition. She moves to Canada with her family where she will be the Christian Science Monitor’s Toronto correspondent.
Sara was a vivacious, active and integral member of the AAPA.
She will be sorely missed!

AAPA meets Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire

On Monday, June 25 the AAPA met with the French minister of economics and finance, Bruno Le Maire. Le Maire received the organization in his offices at the Ministry of Finance. The Minister gave a broad overview of French president Macron’s plans for France and Europe. Le Maire said Europe must impose itself as a counterweight, between China and the US. « We have European values that are different and unique, » he said.

Le Maire took questions for a full hour. We discussed European sanctions on American imports and the mounting trade war, Macron’s reform plans for France and the current international climate tinged with populism.

-Eleanor Beardsley

Huge success for the 2018 AAPA Gala

Hats off to Canada! They hosted a fabulous party for our press association on June 20 at Canadian Ambassador Isabelle Hudon's gorgeous residence and garden.

We had a record turnout of 130 members and guests.

Pascal Lamy remains optismistic about the future of trade


Pascal Lamy, who was director-general of the World Trade Organization for two terms from 2005 to 2013, talked to 25 members of the AAPA at a breakfast meeting at Chez Françoise in late May. The meeting came just as US President Donald Trump was about to introduce tariffs on his European allies for aluminum and steel and as the US threatened sanctions on European firms doing business in Iran. In this ever turbulent period, and despite a fractious G7 meeting in Canada that followed, Mr. Lamy said that he remained optimistic that Trump wouldn't upend the international order on trade  - at least not yet - because it simply doesn't make economic sense from any party involved.

-Sara Miller Llana


French Bill Gates Says Giving is the Way of the Future

Twenty years ago as an enthusiastic entrepreneur,  Alexandre Mars, confidently predicted the success of the Internet and the mobile telephone. Today, as a middle-aged philanthropist (having profited himself from his predictions), he is forecasting that corporate giving is the next big thing.

Mars spoke to the AAPA on Friday May 18 at a breakfast gathering at Strategies & Corp in Paris.

He now spends most of his time and all of his profits on the Epic Foundation, the non-profit he started to scale up a portfolio of international NGOs in countries such as Africa and India in such areas as healthcare, preventing violence against women, and preserving the environment. No one escapes his reach – individuals, families, companies, corporations - when it comes to raising money for Epic...

"Giving has to be easy and painless," Mars says. "You can do something as small as donating the odd-cents on your pay stub every week to pledging shares of your company."

He's convinced that investors, employees and the general public will be looking at more than corporate financial pictures when making choices in the future. Corporate social activities will count, too. "People want to know how a company is engaged, he says. And for employees, it’s not about whether you have an office with a view. It's what you and the company you work for are doing for the world."

-Shellie Karabell


Le Monde boss Jérôme Fenoglio tells AAPA how his paper has managed to thrive in the current grim media landscape

Plans for an English edition of Le Monde, combating fake news, and how the leading French daily is - finally - doing rather nicely in a changed and ever-changing media landscape: these and many other topics were covered when Le Monde editor Jérôme Fenoglio hosted the AAPA.
The event was held on March 27 at the newspaper's premises in the 13th arrondissement, where the imposing building's grand entrance hall has been shut for security reasons since the attack on Charlie Hebdo in early 2015 (access is by side doors).
Mr Fenoglio leads a team of 450 journalists who together produce one of the world’s great daily newspapers. He joined the paper in 1991, and worked in a variety of positions there before being appointed editor in 2015.
He was also questioned by AAPA members on  media ownership and state subsidies to the press, the prospects for “legacy” newspapers in a digital world, and his take on the brave new world that Macron is bent on building in France.

‘Sociologist of emotions’ Eva Illouz on #MeToo and French versus ‘Anglo-Saxon’ sexual mores

The US-educated Franco-Israeli sociologist Eva Illouz spoke to the Anglo-American Press Association for two hours on February 21st at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris, where she teaches.

Illouz is a leading expert in the study of feminism and male-female relationships. She explained how the #MeToo movement sparked by accusations against film producer Harvey Weinstein is unique, describing it as “the reverberating light of a star that exploded in the 1960s,” that is to say, the feminist movement.

Illouz does not think #MeToo marks the end of sexual harassment, but that “men are going to think about the future consequences of their actions, which is something they did not do before.”

French sexual mores are less strict than those in Anglo-Saxon countries, in part because the Catholic aristocrats’ practice of remaining in marriage while having lovers “trickled down,” and because of a tradition of libertinage that is absent in the US.

French women tend to see their own sexual attractiveness as a source of power, for historical reasons, Illouz said. Since the court of Louis XIV, French women have used sexuality as a means of gaining power. And French women drew up the code of gallantry that dictated to men how they should seduce women.

Asked whether US President Donald Trump behaves like a French aristocrat, Illouz said that Trump’s relations with women were “really about the crude exchange of money for sex and beauty.”

Illouz also teaches at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She has lectured at prestigious universities around the world, including Oxford, Princeton and Yale. She appears regularly in publications such as Ha’aretz and Le Monde newspapers. In Germany, where her work is particularly well known, Die Zeit newspaper called Illouz one of the twelve people most likely to “shape the thought of tomorrow.”

-Lara Marlowe