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Rebranding France with an alluring woman and big bucks

FRANCE is the world's fabled No. 1 tourism destination, but far from No. 1 in revenue - so it has launched a rebranding campaign, "Rendez-vous en France," writes Dheepthi Namasivayam.

With the opulent French Riviera, iconic Eiffel Tower and luscious vineyards, France stands tall and proud as the world's No. 1 travel destination.

But it's not No. 1 in tourism revenue, to the chagrin of the country's tourism authority. So it has launched a campaign to "rebrand" France, a place already considered a dreamland by would-be travelers across the globe.

According to the UN World Tourism Organization, 82 million visitors traveled to France in 2007, an increase of 3 million from the year before and well ahead of No. 2 Spain and No. 3 the United States, who welcomed 58 million and 51 million visitors, respectively.

But international competition, changing consumer demands and superior tourism revenue from the US and Spain have provoked some serious soul-searching in French tourism circles.

The French government unveiled a new French "brand" last month, including a logo and travel campaign aimed at rejuvenating tourism revenue.

The logo features a young woman symbolizing Marianne, an allegorical figure and national symbol since the French Revolution, as she looks toward the future. The dreamy tagline, "Rendez-vous en France," is designed to seduce visitors to the land of fashion, food and fine wine.

Marianne invokes what the tourism authority, the Maison de la France, labels the traits that make France unique: adventure and spontaneity, a rich history, and of course, romance.

Those with a sharp eye will notice that the word "France," just above the tagline, forms the upper half of Marianne's body. The F and R letters are her right arm, while the curve of the N, C and E form her left arm, with the A covering her body.

An earlier version of the logo was more anatomically obvious. It featured Marianne's naked breasts, joined by the "R" and "A."

That one was vetoed in June, however, apparently deemed a bit too seductive for the foreign tourist market.


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