Posted by Matt Purdue
Your client comes to you with a great new project: launch a huge PR campaign around their new line of trucker hats. This is a five-figure deal, and sounds like great fun. There’s only one catch: the hats are emblazoned with the word F@#K.
Far fetched? Not in Paris, mes amis. I just returned from a week’s vacation in the French capital, the birthplace of the Age of Enlightenment. Amid the statues of Rousseau and Verlaine, the F-bomb seems to the plat du jour of young Parisians. I noticed no fewer than three young French people strolling down the boulevards of Paris with F@#K boldly emblazoned on either a trucker hat or t-shirt.
Look, I’m not here to judge. I’m as big on cultural relativism as the next person. But I admit it does throw me to sit in a café in a city that claims to be the capital of high fashion, gourmet cooking and all the sophisticated things in life—and see one of George Carlin’s “Seven Words You Can’t Say on TV” coming at me. (Warning: the Carlin clip embedded herein is raunchy and launches immediately in your browser. Beware if you’re listening in a cubicle.)
But that’s beside the point. Our job as professional communicators is not to judge. Our job is to learn and understand. Is there something about Parisian youth culture that makes this word particularly attractive? Are there other curses we can leverage with an even fatter profit margin than the F@#K hat? Or are these three F@#KING examples I noticed just statistical anomalies?
If your client came to you with the F@#K campaign, what would you do?