Obituaries: Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet

The history of advertising in France is unusual. Newspapers were slow to make space for publicity. It was widely held that advertising meant corruption (and so it did when Marcel Proust had to pay both journalist and newspaper in order to get a favourable review). But, just as the French overcame their reluctance to have anything to do with the banks or with the stock exchange, so advertising and publicity have become a vital part of national activities. Were proof needed one has only to look at the eulogies delivered for Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet, on his death at the age of 89. One left-wing journal hailed him on its front page as the Pope of Publicity, "le Pape de la Pub".

Of course, every country is proud of its rags-to-riches citizens. Bleustein, as he was called, was born in 1906 of a Jewish family living in Montmartre. He attended the local school where his main preoccupation was to sit near the stove in winter and near the door in summer. He left as soon as possible carrying with him a certificate which stated that he was able to read, to write and to count. Bleustein never tired of telling the story, always adding that mention should have been made that he was also able to speak. An ability to convince, together with a supreme self- confidence, explains his success.

For a time he worked in the furniture business of Leviten (he was related to the family) and then set up in two small rooms on the Faubourg-Montmartre as a publicity agent. At first it was difficult and he found that possible customers did not know what he was talking about. But he inspired confidence. His agency, Publicis, was founded in 1926 ("cis" for "six", in French) and in 1929 he first had the idea of using the radio for publicity purposes; it was an immense success. Reputedly in this year he became a millionaire.

Bleustein used every method to promote himself. On one occasion he booked a table for dinner in Maxim's and, when the restaurant was full, he went round all those who were dining there, the smartest of the smart, introduced himself and shook hands. People were puzzled, but informed.

In 1934 the austere Georges Mandel became minister responsible for the Post Office and its services, and he banned all advertising on radio. Bleustein was ruined. But he picked himself up and created his own radio station, Radio Cite. The risk paid off. It was a great success, thanks to the artists who appeared there, including many who were becoming famous, such as Tino Rossi, Charles Trenet, Edith Piaf and Jean Sablon.

And Bleustein was the inventor of the advertising slogan. His phrases were repeated on the radio and throughout France. Many are still remembered. In the days of furs and fur coats, there was the unforgettable "Brunswick, le fourreur qui fait fureur". Bleustein was part of French life.

In 1939 he served in the air force. In 1940 the Germans took over Radio Cite and looked for its owner, who spent some time in a Spanish prison before joining de Gaulle. He then adopted the name of Blanchet and was on the staff of General Koenig, who was one of the first Free French leaders to land in France.

Back in France he brought many Gaullists into the publicity business, although Albert Camus was bitterly disappointed not to have his financial support for a progressive newspaper. Instead, Bleustein-Blanchet collaborated with Pierre Lazareff (with whom he had been at school) for the paper France- Soir. Installed in the buildings of the Hotel Astoria on the Champs-Elysees (which were burned down in 1972 but rebuilt), he knew everyone and was alert to a France that was rapidly changing. Who else would have told de Gaulle in 1958 that he had no idea of how he should appear on television? (And de Gaulle took his advice.) Who else would have installed a drug- store on the Champs-Elysees and in the Latin Quarter?

Bleustein-Blanchet was one of the first to understand the importance of public opinion polls, in commerce and in politics, and he was instrumental in organising what has become a minor industry and an inescapable facet of French life.

In 1939 he married Sophie Vaillant, the granddaughter of Edouard Vaillant, one of the founding fathers of French socialism.

Marcel Bleustein, advertising and publicity entrepreneur: born Paris 1906; married 1939 Sophie Vaillant (three daughters); died Paris 11 April 1996.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: Human Resources Manager

£28000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: A successful organisation...

Recruitment Genius: Internal Recruiter - Manufacturing

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Internal Recruiter (manufact...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager (CIPD) - Barking / East Ham - £50-55K

£50000 - £55000 per annum + 25 days holidays & benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Man...

Recruitment Genius: Operations / Project Manager

£40000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company specialis...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones