French Newspaper "Liberation" may lose €700K after LVMH CEO Bashing

Sep 19, 2012
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This is a reprint of the Rude Baguette’s Weekly Digest. You can receive the weekly digest & more by mail by subscribing on the right 

The talk this week in French tech has been about Liberation, a French newspaper that I can now confirm has a socialist skew. Last week’s cover page (featured right) featured LVMH  CEO Bernard Arnault, who has recently been in the papers for seeking Belgian citizenship. While he has denied doing it for tax evasion purposes – an accusation coming while French president Hollande reassured the world last week that he will, indeed, uphold the 75% on household incomes over €1 Million (during two tax years). Arnault, the 4th richest man in the world – behind the man who owns Mexico, the man who invented the PC computer interface and Warren Buffett – has a lot to lose from two years of 75% tax on his multi-million dollar income.

And so, in the wake of arguments about whether he’s fleeing the country, or if his new-found desire to become a Belgian citizen really is for “investment reasons,” Liberation put out their magazine cover, which roughly translates to “Fuck off, Rich Asshole!” – Perhaps a better translation would be “Beat it, Rich Jerk!” but let’s say it’s somewhere in the middle, in terms of emphasis and vulgarity. As the entrepreneurial community got fired up about yet another story about France hating entrepreneurship, LeMonde somewhat quietly put out this article[FR], “Heavy ad losses for Liberation after its Bernard Arnault headline” . Here’s a quick quote/translation:

“Since the publication of the issue, the different companies under the LVMH group have made it known that they have cut their advertising budget through the rest of the year. In total, the profit loss amounts to €150K. But that’s not all. Other luxury good companies, not under LVMH, have announced that they too will be removing their ad campaigns in solidarity with LVMH. According to a source inside Liberation, the ad budget losses may total as much as €700K”

France is undergoing a transition, and it has a long history of drastic revolutions. We’ve already written about how France’s biggest companies are dying, and how their only choice will be to support startups, which, combined, is the equivalent of a high-growth corporation. France has the technological savvy, it has the capital, it has an education system putting out thousands of new engineers a day – I repeat, we have NO developer crunch – just imagine what would happen if France became a country that supported entrepreneurship, instead of despising it?

[Update:] It has been requested by several digest subscribers that I should explain that the comment made by Liberation is a play off of a comment that former president Sarkozy made, “casse-toi, pauvre con” where ‘pauvre’ means ‘poor.’ This phrase came to embody the opposing political party’s view of Sarkozy, and Liberation’s play on this phrase seems to be a sort of “who’s laughing now?” to the Sarkozy supporters, i.e. the political Right in France.

Personally, while this does add context to the phrase itself, I don’t find it relevant to the fact that it was, financially, a mistake.

The Weekly Digest also goes on to discuss topics like LeCamping’s DemoDay in Paris, JolieBox’s acquisitionby the American Birchbox, and to give hints about this week’s upcoming articles. You can read the rest of the weekly digest here – but to receive the weekly digest each week, don’t forget to subscribe on the right or here.