After seeing many stories about a new Netflix show called “Emily in Paris,” I decided to check it out for myself. I had to laugh as the first thing I noticed is that the show was produced by Darren Star.
Back when I was running advertising in the 1990’s, Star had a show on TV called “Melrose Place.” For those not familiar with this TV show, it was about a bunch of twenty-somethings living in West Hollywood and some of them worked at an ad agency. My advertising team, which included four women, used to meet every week to laugh at how inane this show was. There wasn’t anything accurate about the advertising world on “Melrose Place” particularly Amanda Woodward who went from being an art director to running the agency. That just didn’t happen in the real agency world.
While in advertising, I regularly worked with our European offices including in Paris. I’m a big Francophile and absolutely love going to France. I’ve rarely met anyone in business or as a tourist that were like the French people portrayed on “Emily in Paris.” Though I must admit that Emily is the stereotypical American in Paris (I’ve actually seen a few people who act just like her). Not only does she not speak the language (neither do I) but she doesn’t know anything about proper French etiquette which is quite easy to learn.
Almost every person I knew who worked in the Valley wanted a European assignment. They were exceedingly rare to get and usually went to someone at the manager or director level. There is a lot of talk online about Emily’s age on the show. In a Netflix press release, it states Emily is a marketing executive which would mean she is 32+ but we all know that she comes across much younger - about 24-25.
While I understand Emily is a social media strategist, a social media campaign is not the solution to every marketing problem. In fact, you could turn Emily’s use of the phrase “social media engagement” into a drinking game. No, you need to do more than social media to build a brand which is where Emily’s naïveté comes in. Emily has a lot to learn about marketing and she should be spending time trying to learn from Sylvie the head of the Paris office so she can gain more knowledge and experience about all aspects of marketing, particularly international marketing, so she can design a real marketing strategy for her clients, a capability she needs if she truly wants to be a marketing exec.
Beware of becoming stuck in the social media cubicle for the remainder of your career.
My last point about the show – and what I think is the biggest trend that should come out of it – is the fashion. I immediately wondered about Emily’s salary since I saw at least 4 Chanel jackets and 6 Chanel bags that run at least $5K each. Her Paris opera outfit was very Carrie Bradshaw as were several of the other purses she wore to the office. And obviously Star was channeling the 80’s with all of Emily’s bright pinks, blues and yellows. Emily supposedly comes from Chicago but her fashion sense is definitely not midwestern.
“Emily in Paris” is very frothy with lots of headline puns. Order a latte, eat some real French pastry and enjoy the show. Just don’t use this as a guide to a successful marketing career.